‘Fake news’ at the heart of hate-fu­elled pol­i­tics

Southeast Asia Globe - - Panorama -

The rev­e­la­tion by po­lice that an on­line syn­di­cate known as Sara­cen has been fu­elling In­done­sia’s in­creas­ingly vi­cious po­lit­i­cal cli­mate through a “fake news fac­tory” de­signed to spread hate speech and mis­in­for­ma­tion has raised un­easy ques­tions about the ar­chi­pel­ago’s grow­ing sec­tar­ian di­vide. Sara­cen, which takes its name from a his­tor­i­cal term for Mus­lims widely used through­out the Cru­sades, has al­legedly been paid thou­sands by sev­eral sup­port­ers of es­tab­lish­ment politi­cian Prabowo Su­bianto to run smear cam­paigns against in­cum­bent Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo and his for­mer deputy Ba­suki ‘Ahok’ Pur­nama. Last month, mis­in­for­ma­tion broad­cast on so­cial me­dia was blamed by po­lice for spark­ing a fierce anti-com­mu­nist riot in re­sponse to a his­tor­i­cal sem­i­nar at the Le­gal Aid In­sti­tute in cen­tral Jakarta.

Hard­lin­ers af­ter the jail­ing of for­mer Jakarta gover­nor Ahok

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