Jakarta. A highly regarded Islamic figure condemned the recent actions of hardline Islamic groups that sought to deny funeral prayers for those who opt to support incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in the second round of Jakarta's gubernatorial election, slated for April 19.
Ahmad “Buya” Syafii Maarif said that such threats were savage, inhumane and wholly unIslamic.
"It is an extremely savage thing to do. No religious teachings ever mention [the revocation of funeral prayers]," Buya said in Central Jakarta on Thursday (16/03), adding that such actions are not a reflection of Islam.
Buya, a former chairman of Muhammadiyah, believes those groups were only "selling" religious verses to gain political power.
"They have sold these religious verses at a ‘cheap price.' It is unfortunate that people as savage as these can exist in our nation," Buya said.
He urged the government not to be afraid to face radical organizations head-on.
"Our law enforcement should not take the side of radical groups. The police should not be beaten by ‘private police’ [affiliated with these groups]," Buya said.
The National Police have already begun preliminary investigations into several mosques in Jakarta after discriminatory banners were placed in strategic locations around the city, including one that read, "Muslims who vote for an infidel leader or blasphemer do not deserve a funeral prayer at mosque."
The police are also trying to determine the identities of those who spread the discriminatory images on social media.
Tensions have reached a fever pitch in the capital over religious and ethnic sentiments surrounding the Jakarta election, with Muslim hardliners demanding the arrest of Ahok and threatening Muslim residents who decide to vote for him.