Some people really thought that the movement to persecute former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for his alleged blasphemy was just about defending religion and not politics. Well, to put it bluntly, those people were wrong. The Islamist hardliners that organized and mobilized the protests against Ahok not only take credit for winning the election for current Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, they are now upset that the political parties backing Anies did not accepting their candidates for this year’s regional elections so that they could use the same religious attack playbook to win again.
At a press conference in Jakarta yesterday, Al-Khaththath, the secretary general of the hardline Islamic People’s Forum (FUI), explained how upset the Islamist hardliners who had banded together as the Alumni 212 (named for the massive December 2, 2016, protest against Ahok) were with the Gerindra, PKS and PAN political parties for not accepting any of their five recommended candidates for the 2018 regional elections.
“We supported the victory of the Governor of Anies-Sandi with the spirit of 212, the spirit of Al-Maidah 51. We hope it will happen in other places,” Al-Khaththath said as quoted by Detik.
In fact, Al-Khaththath said that Rizieq Shihab, the fugitive firebrand founder of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) has asked the leaders of the three political parties that the same strategy that had been used to defeat Ahok in Jakarta be carried out in other provinces using candidates recommended by the 212 Alumni.
“The message of Habib Rizieq, when I went to Mecca, was to ask the three party leaders to copy-paste [the strategy] used in Jakarta to win in other provinces. Well, of course I do not know if there is misperception that we would support them unconditionally, perhaps that is what they thought,” Al-Khaththath said.
The FUI official’s shocking statements seem to have been prompted by accusations by similarly shocking accusation made by La Nyalla Mahmud Mattalitti, the former chairman of Indonesian Football Association (PSSI) and current chairman of East Java Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin), against Gerindra party leader Prabowo Subianto.
Al-Khaththath said La Nyalla was one of the five candidates that had been recommended by the 212 Alumni. At the same press conference yesterday, La Nyalla said the reason he could not move forward in the East Java elections is because he could not pay a sum of IDR40 billion (US$ 3 million) demanded by Prabowo, even though he had given Gerindra several billion already.
Gerindra officials have denied the accusation but it is on the record that Ly Nyalla did receive official political accreditation to run in the election as Gerindra’s official candidate on December 11, but that it was rescinded shortly thereafter.
Whatever the truth behind the conflict, it’s clear that Islamist hardliners and some political party elites are not seeing eye-to-eye. In the end, the concerns about the effect Islamization of Indonesia’s elections may be put to rest, not by a general rejection of religious influence on secular politics, but by petty bickering and corruption (which we’re totally fine with).