JAKARTA - It started with the struggle between the reformists and entrenched interests and their supporters. The reformists are represented by President Joko Widodo (alias Jokowi) and Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (alias Ahok) and their supporters, while the entrenched interests are represented by former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.
The entrenched interests are using Islam (including the militant version of the religion and its adherents) to counter the reformists, as it is difficult, if not impossible, to get rid of the reformists using just secular issues.
The Nov 4 demonstration in Jakarta against Ahok basically reflected this struggle. In fact, looking at their backgrounds, both the reformists and entrenched interests are secular, although the entrenched interests have a stronger "authoritarian" tendency.
While the entrenched interests made use of militant Islam for their agenda, it does not necessarily follow that they would like to establish a Muslim state (a state with Islam as the official religion) and later an Islamic state (a state based on Islamic syariah law).
In their calculation, the entrenched interests would return to their original "secular" position once they succeeded in defeating the reformists and acquiring political power.
They may not have fully realised that by playing the Islamic card, they have released the "Islamic ideological force" which may be out of their control.
There is little doubt that the Nov 4 demonstration was organised by groups able to finance the activities. Jokowi's democratic government could not ban the demonstration, but they were able to make it peaceful, until in the evening when some perpetrators started to loot and burn vehicles. Some attempted to occupy the DRP-MPR building without success. Nevertheless, the riots were controlled as the government was well prepared.