10/01/2012, 00.00
INDONESIA

Muslim-Christian duo to run Jakarta, Islamists lash out

Mathias Hariyadi
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.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A moderate Muslim and an ethnic Chinese Christian won the runoff vote for the Jakarta gubernatorial election. According to the official press release of the Election Commission, challengers Joko Widodo and his deputy Basuki Tjahaja Purnama beat outgoing Governor Fauzi "Foke" Bowo and his deputy Nachrowi Ramli.

On 7 October, 'Jokowi and Ahok,' as the duo is called, will start to run the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta, capital of the largest Muslim nation in the world. Indonesian Muslim fundamentalists announced their intention to fight the new leaders "because they do not express Islam".

Rhoma Irama, a famous Indonesian singer, is among the extremist critics of the new administration. From the pages of Voice of Islam, he said that the Jokowi-Ahok victory is a bad and dark day for the entire nation, especially since the election was fought over nationalism and religion. The outgoing governor and his deputy governor ran in fact as strict Muslims. For Rhoma, the result is a "political disaster' not only for the people of Jakarta but also for all Indonesians.

Notwithstanding his racist slogans and religious fundamentalism, the singer foresees three major problems associated with the capital's new leaders. First, economic and social darkness will fall upon the capital. Secondly, the city will have no good Muslim leaders. Thirdly, the new leaders will lead Jakartans towards "immorality."

Other political analysts have a different view about the election of Jokowi and Ahok. Their victory is an historic turning point that will bring to the fore popular leaders who are ethnically and religiously different from most residents of the capital.

Joko Widodo is the outgoing governor of Solo, Central Java. A practicing Muslim, he is also a liberal. His deputy Basuki Tjahaja Purnawa is Christian, and an ethnic Chinese, born in southern Sumatra. Should Widodo run for the presidency in 2014 (which cannot be ruled out), his Christian deputy, Ahok, might become vice president.

During the election campaign, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was the object of repeated personal attacks because of his Chinese ethnicity and Christian religion. The press coverage and defamatory slogans reached a crescendo that raised fears of possible sectarian violence among various religious groups.

In the past, majority Muslims have in fact attacked ethnic Chinese, both Christian and Buddhist.

In May 1998, when the Suharto dictatorship was still in place, thousands of people were brutally and viciously attacked. This has continued on and off, a sign of how fragile Indonesian social cohesion is.

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