Febriamy Hutapea & Ronna Nirmala
Despite a prohibition against political campaigning at houses of worship, a mosque near Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo’s house has posted a leaflet urging Muslims to vote for the incumbent in the upcoming gubernatorial election.
The leaflet, titled “Guidance to Vote for Jakarta’s Leader,” was the result of a meeting of Muslim clerics, the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) and 500 congregation members at Ahmad Yani Mosque in Menteng, Central Jakarta.
It encouraged Muslims to vote for the candidate who will benefit Jakarta residents and who has more political experience and knowledge in the fields of religion and science.
The group claimed Fauzi satisfied those requirements more than his opponent, Solo Mayor Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi.
Fauzi, the group said, was religious and had close ties to the ulema, or Islamic leaders, as well as a doctorate degree in city planning from Germany and 30 years of experience in Jakarta.
“We want Muslims in Jakarta to be religiously responsible by casting their votes for Fauzi Bowo and [his running mate] Nachrowi Ramli during the second round of the gubernatorial election,” the leaflet said.
The leaflet was signed by MUI chairmen Ma’ruf Amin and Umar Shihab as well as Noor Ahmad, the council’s deputy secretary general.
The leaflet comes after former Vice President Jusuf Kalla, chairman of the Indonesian Mosques Council (DMI), urged people not to campaign at mosques, which he said would taint their status as holy places of worship.
The Jakarta Elections Supervisory Committee (Panwaslu Jakarta), which has prohibited political campaigning at mosques, said it would investigate the leaflet.
“Ulema might be in favor of a certain candidate — that’s their right,” said Ramdansyah, head of Panwaslu Jakarta. “They’re even allowed to be involved in the election, or to join a campaign team, but there is a regulation [against campaigning at the mosques].”
Ramdansyah said campaign leaflets were allowed if they did not promote or disparage a particular candidate. He also said a leaflet should not be distributed beyond the community, such as the MUI, that wrote it.
“If it was made by the Jakarta Ulema Forum, it should only be distributed among them, in that community, but not in a public area,” he said. “It might make other religious believers upset, and besides, this isn’t campaign time [at mosques].”
Fauzi’s campaign team said it did not know about the leaflet.
“We didn’t want it; we didn’t even know about it,” secretary of the team, Budi Siswanto, said on Wednesday.
However, he said it was normal for a community to show its trust and support for Fauzi.
“The regulation is clear: Anyone can declare their support as long as it’s in accordance with the regulation, and not containing defamation against an ethnicity, religion, race or society group.”