03/13/2017, 15.03
INDONESIA

Muslim supporters of Christian governor denied funeral

by Mathias Hariyadi

Banners and notices have been displayed in several Jakarta mosques. Police are investigating the matter. Concerned, Religious Affairs minister calls refusals “unislamic”." The election campaign was marked by acts of intolerance by Islamists against Ahok and his supporters. Tensions are building ahead of the second round of voting in April. Moderate Muslims react.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Some radical Muslim leaders refuse to celebrate an Islamic funeral for those who supported Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in his re-election bid. Currently, elections are scheduled in 101 regencies and cities.

Last February, a local chief refused to officiate at the funeral of a resident because of his political preference for Ahok during the first round of voting. A similar incident occurred on 9 March, in the same residential area, arousing the indignation of moderate Muslim Indonesians.

Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin expressed great concern on Saturday about religious hate messages by some radical Islamist groups.

His reaction follows the start of a police investigation into the posting, in different Jakarta mosques, of notices and banners that invite the faithful not to perform funeral rites for Muslim supporters of the outgoing Christian governor.

For Minister Saifuddin, a member of the Islamic United Development Party (PPP), such calls are "unislamic" because “praying for the dead and carrying out funeral rites are legal and moral duties, fardu kiyafa,” that is a moral obligation incumbent upon every Muslim.

"If a residential area refuses to fulfill this moral obligation, then the result is clear: all the Muslims of that area are committing sin," the minister said.

Saifuddin is also prominent figure in the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia’s largest and most moderate Muslim organisation.

In his statement, he called on all Jakarta Muslim not to act in an in tolerant manner towards people and families whose political preference is different from theirs, or simply because they voted for Ahok during the first round in February.

The campaign saw many religious Islamist leaders call on Muslim voters not to vote for non-Muslim candidates, in particular Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is facing a blasphemy trial.

In Greater Jakarta, the first round of local elections ended with Ahok’s victory and that of his running mate, Djarot Saiful Hidayat. in April, they will face off against Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno.

Meanwhile, some radical Muslim groups have continued their hate campaign, provoking the reaction of moderate groups.

On Saturday, NU representative Ishomuddin Ahmad stated that refusing to pray for the dead suspected of having supported Ahok is an act of intimidation.

Ishomuddin’s statement is echoed by a press release issued by Gerakan Pemuda Ansor, a NU-affiliated youth organisation, which has offered itself to Jakarta Muslims should funeral ceremonies be denied by extremist clerics.

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