Markus Junianto Sihaloho
The United Development Party on Wednesday announced that it would seek to nominate Munarman, the commander of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), as one of its legislative candidates for the 2014 elections.
Suryadharma Ali, the chairman of the Islam-based party known as PPP, said Munarman had the potential to be a good politician.
“PPP and I see that Munarman is highly qualified; he has good knowledge and he’s a lawyer. He will fit into the political arena,” said Suryadharma, who is also the country’s religious affairs minister.
Suryadharma said Munarman would represent his home province of South Sumatra, but the FPI leader was noncommittal on Wednesday.
“I haven’t decided; need to do an istikharah prayer before receiving the honor,” Munarman said, referring to a prayer in Islam recommended for Muslims who are uncertain about an impending decision.
“That’s an offer from Pak Suryadharma Ali. Thank you very much, Pak Suryadharma Ali,” he added.
Munarman chaired the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) from 2002 to 2006 and was an expert staffer for the attorney general from 2004 to 2007, before he later joined the FPI as its spokesman and then commander.
Asked why the PPP would want to associate itself with a leader from the group notorious for violent confrontation and nightclub raids, Suryadharma said: “How should we treat the hard-line FPI? Be hostile to them or embrace them? I choose embracing them.
“I was among those who strongly rejected [the minority Islamic sect] Ahmadiyah [in the past]. Should I treat them harshly or embrace them? By embracing them we can communicate and exchange ideas, giving positive input to each other,” he added.