It appears that the Aceh-based Council of Preachers Association (IDA) is quite insistent that Indonesia’s presidential and VP candidates take a Quran reading test in order to prove their knowledge of Islam (and, ironically, put an end to identity politics, somehow).
Following up on last month’s invitation, IDA representatives landed in Jakarta today to directly ask the candidates to RSVP for the Quran test, which they have planned for tomorrow in the province’s capital of Banda Aceh.
The representatives first met with officials from Gerindra Chairman Prabowo Subianto and running mate Sandiaga Uno’s campaign this morning, which had strongly hinted previously that they would turn down the invitation for the Quran test because the public needed to hear candidates talk about “substantial issues” instead.
Unfortunately for the travelers, neither Prabowo nor Sandiaga were able to meet with them today.
“Bapak [Prabowo] was away preparing for a big event tonight. Maybe we will meet about this later. God willing we will get an answer soon,” IDA Chairman TGK Marsyuddin said today, as quoted by Okezone, likely a reference to a major speech Prabowo is scheduled to give tonight that his campaign’s chairman hinted might include an announcement about his withdrawal for the race.
Meanwhile, campaigners for incumbent President Joko Widodo and running mate Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) Chairman Ma’ruf Amin said they would welcome the IDA representatives this afternoon, and, in line with previous statements, said they would entertain the possibility of Jokowi and Ma’ruf taking the Quran test.
As things stand, it’s unlikely that the Quran test will go ahead as planned as neither candidate pairs have officially RSVP’d for it one day before its scheduled date.
However, the candidates will have no choice but to attend the first official presidential debate on Jan. 17, which will tackle issues related to law, human rights, corruption and terrorism. After that, there will be four more official debates before Indonesia votes on April 17.