Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
World | By Carl Welch

Indonesia capital votes for governor after divisive campaign

Indonesia capital votes for governor after divisive campaign

More than 80 percent of Indonesia's population professes Islam.

His accusers allege, however, that he had stated that voters had been lied to by the Qur'an itself, and after mass protest rallies, authorities agreed to prosecute him for allegedly blaspheming the revered scripture.

"The Jakarta election is a political process, not a war".

But despite the high religious and racial tensions in the Jakarta governor race, they aren't the only reason Ahok is in trouble. Baswedan has played a unsafe game in attempting to appeal to conservative Muslim voters, even going so far as to meet with the FPI in a move that shocked those who had seen him as a moderate Muslim politician.

The exact extent of these hardline Muslims' influence on the "cultural Muslim" (or nominal Muslim) is unknown but surely there is influence. However, Purnama became involved in a blasphemy case in late 2016.

"When I was in the stronghold of the anti-Ahok movement, they were implying they're willing to hit the streets and all the rest of it".

Muslims are demanding that Purnama be arrested.

But Mr Purnama denies blasphemy, saying his comments were aimed at politicians "incorrectly" using the Koran against him.

Voting for Ahok seemingly does not come without threats or consequences.

But anti-Ahok groups said, "This news is hoax, because it is haram for a king to shake hands with the blasphemer of Islam".

Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama talks to reporters after voting in the first round of city election on Feb 15.

A total of 65,000 security personnel from the police, armed forces and civil defence branches will be deployed all over the sprawling metropolis of 10 million people to ensure safety and security.

All in all, there are pressures on the nominal Muslim (as well as on the non-Muslim) in this election.

The practice of Christianity and other religions is legal in Indonesia.

Baswedan - backed by groups such as the Islam Defenders Front (IDF) - is aligned with opposition leader Prabowo Subianto, who lost the presidential election to Widodo in 2014.

"Arguably, the electorate wasn't so much impressed by his programme than by his presenting a compelling anti-Ahok persona". In fact, it can be labelled brash and blunt. Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation. For example, he evicted people living on the banks of the Ciliwung river in South Jakarta to make it possible to improve infrastructure (particularly to enhance flood prevention). For Ahok's political opponents, the Al-Maidah scandal presented a golden opportunity to attack not just Ahok, but also his political backers, including his close ally Jokowi. As such, the governor's race is seen as having national political ramifications. They successfully run as a pair (with Ahok as deputy) for Jakarta governor in 2012. And this trend may be carried into the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections.

Groups determined to see Baswedan take the governorship have been accused of stoking religious discord in the city ahead of the second round, analysts say, a startling turn in a country with a secular constitution and a long tradition of pluralism.

But the election is also viewed as a test for Indonesia's young democracy and record of religious tolerance, with both sides raising concerns about intimidation and voter fraud.

But this election has not been based around policy, given that roughly three out of four Jakartans approved of Ahok's performance as governor, yet he proved less popular than Anies on election day.

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