Indonesians trust their imams more than their political leaders

Jakarta, Indonesia – Indonesians trust their imam more than their government institutions or their president, this according to a survey by the Islamic and Societal Research Center (PPIM) conducted in January through March 2007.

The survey, which questioned 200 respondents between 16 and 70 years of age, found that 41 per cent trusted the country's religious leaders more than any other leadership group compared to 22 per cent for the president and the Indonesian military, 16 per cent for the police, 11 per cent for parliament and only 8 per cent for political parties.

PPIM executive chairman Jajat Burhanuddin said that results show that for people religion is a more important factor that politics.

A prominent Muslim scholar, Azyumardi Azra, agrees and warns that government institutions are weaker and declining compare to religious ones.

Religion also appears to be most important symbol of national identity. As Jajat noted, respondents put religion as the most important factor in determining the identity of the nation, with some 41.3 per cent supporting that idea. Another 24.6 per cent chose nationhood as the basis for national identity.

And yet most Indonesians support Pancasila, the secular five-point ideology, as the foundation of the constitution. Only 22.8 per cent want Sharia as the state's ideology.

With a population of some 230 million, more than 80 per cent Muslim, Indonesia remains the world’s most populous Muslim country.