The daughter of Indonesia’s founding president Sukarno embraced Hinduism after giving up Islam on Tuesday.
Human rights activists and political observers termed the
move evidence of religious pluralism in the world’s most populous Muslim
Some went a step further to say that Sukmawati
Sukarnoputri’s religious conversion – which would be considered blasphemous in
other Muslim nations, including Malaysia – could be interpreted as her
opposition to the growth of political Islam in Southeast Asia’s largest
Officials in the nation of 270 million people, where 86% of
residents are Muslim, have in the last decade sought a larger role for Islam in
society and politics, while Indonesia continues to grapple with radicalization
Her niece, Puan Maharani, is among a group of political
scions likely to vie for the top role in the 2024 presidential election. She is
the daughter of Sukmawati’s eldest sister, Megawati, who was Indonesia’s first
woman president from 2001-2004 and still leads the Indonesian Democratic Party
of Struggle (PDI-P), the political vehicle of President Joko Widodo.
The Sukarno name still commands respect as he was the face of a secular nationalist movement that won Indonesia independence from the Dutch colonial rule.