Is Islamofascism even a thing? The case of the Indonesian Islamic Defenders' Front

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Although a term with roots going back to 1933, "Islamofascism" did not gain wide-spread use until the beginning of the 21st century. In the West the term has often been associated with conservative and far right-wing politics, giving it Islamophobic overtones. However, in Indonesia and other Muslim majority countries at times it can emerge in public discussion and debates as a rhetorical weapon of liberal intellectuals when discussing conservative and far right-wing "Islamist" organizations?although in Indonesia the more common term is "religious fascist." This paper examines theories of fascism built up in "Fascist Studies" (the so-called "New Consensus"), as well as those of non-Stalinist Marxists and longue durée approaches to the history of fascism and the far right to see what light they might shed on the character of the Indonesian Islamic Defenders' Front (Front Pembela Islam, FPI). It concludes that while "Islamofascism" might be an interesting and productive stepping-off point, and while there are some parallels that can be drawn between FPI politics and ideology and those of fascism and far right politics as identified in this literature, the term "Islamofascist" is nevertheless problematic. This is both because of its Islamophobic overtones and because the politics and ideology of the FPI are still coalescing as the organization emerges on the national stage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)125-150
Number of pages26
JournalAsian Review
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Externally publishedYes


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