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    » 08/27/2012, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    Campaign against Chinese Christian candidate in Jakarta gubernatorial race

    Mathias Hariyadi

    Voters in the capital will cast their ballot on 20 September for their new governor. Muslim groups have launched personal racist anti-Christian attacks. Imams and other religious leaders have called on residents to vote only for Muslims. Fears are growing about the campaign’s impact on Indonesia’s fragile social fabric.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Tensions are rising in Jakarta, Java, as the date (20 September) of the runoff in the capital's gubernatorial election approaches. The race is very close and everything is good, even personal attacks, against other candidates. However, there is a risk that it might become an ethnic and social confrontation. Billboards, messages and video footage are being used to denigrate candidates running against the incumbent governor, especially against a non-Muslim Chinese-Indonesian who is running for the post of deputy governor. Imams and other religious leaders have also stepped into the ring, telling their co-religionists not to trust people who are not close to Islam.

    Joko Widodo (aka Jokowi) and his running mate Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (aka Ahok) are going against outgoing Jakarta Governor Fauzi "Foke" Bowo. In the first round of voting, the challengers harnessed 42.6 per cent of the vote, whilst Bowo got only 34.05 per cent. The runoff is now an open match and the incumbent is not certain of re-election.

    The campaign took on an incendiary note when attacks began aimed at Basuki, an ethnic Chinese from Solo (central Java) who also happens to be Christian.

    The ongoing attempts to discredit him could however heighten tensions between religious groups and ignite sectarian violence in a campaign that is increasingly taking on a national dimension.

    Jakarta has a history of majority Muslims attacking minority Chinese, both Christian and Buddhist. In May 1998, when Dictator Suharto still ruled the country, thousands of people were victims of vicious and unprecedented violent attacks that have regularly flared up ever since, evidence of the fragile social fabric of the world's most populous Muslim country.

    More and more voices can be heard, appealing to the population to vote for candidates that are ethnic Betawi, i.e. native Jakartans, and Muslim, like Governor Bowo, a moderate in the city's politics.

    Personal attacks against Basuki have come various quarters, including a musician. Similarly, during his sermon in a mosque, a religious leader urged Muslims not to vote for the Jokowi-Ahok ticket.

    In a not so subtle message, a number of videos have been posted on the Internet, showing the sectarian violence that rocked Jakarta in 1998, reminding voters that this might happen again if an ethnic Chinese is elected.

    For his part, Jokowi has been attacked as an anti-Islamic, pro-Zionist activist.

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    See also

    01/10/2012 INDONESIA
    Muslim-Christian duo to run Jakarta, Islamists lash out
    Jokowi and his deputy Ahok will begin running the capital on 7 October. For analysts and experts, their election marks an historic turning point. However, Muslim extremists bemoan their victory, calling it a bad and dark day for the nation. Islamists expect "immorality" will become widespread among residents.

    21/09/2012 INDONESIA
    Jakarta: election victory for challenging duo, ethnic Chinese Christian deputy governor
    According to exit polls, Jokowi-Ahok ticket has won (with 53% of the vote). Analysts and experts speak of "historic victory ", which will be also reflected in the national political landscape. The election campaign marked by personal attacks against the Christian candidate.

    09/08/2007 INDONESIA
    Moderate Fauzi is the new governor of Jakarta
    Exit polls from the capital’s election for governor award victory to the nationalist candidate and seal defeat for the PKS, an Islamic rooted party, whose policies concerned ethnic and religious minorities. Official results are due next week.

    22/07/2015 INDONESIA – ISLAM
    Possible attacks on churches trigger high security alert in Indonesia
    This follows the burning of two Protestant churches in Central Java, ostensibly sparked by an arson attack against a mosque in Papua during celebrations marking the end of Ramadan. Mainstream and social media have failed to report that a 15-year-old Christian boy was killed by police in the latter incident. The government urges people not to give in to provocations.

    01/10/2014 INDONESIA
    Temporary veto for bill that abolishes direct election of governor and mayor
    Indonesia's outgoing president temporarily vetoes controversial bill approved by parliament last week. President-elect Widodo, who has already criticised the law, will now have to solve the controversy with his own means. Some political groups want to keep in check democracy.



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