National Council Bans Political Activities in Mosques Ahead of 2019 Elections

NOVEMBER 27, 2018

Jakarta. The Indonesian Mosque Council, or DMI, said it fully supports the democratic process but recommends that mosques be separated from political campaigns.

The DMI announced the decision at the conclusion of its first national meeting in Jakarta on Sunday, attended by 250 members from across the country.

Banning the use of mosques for political activities was one of seven proposals adopted during the meeting, the council said in a statement. The other six pertained to leadership and organizational matters.

The DMI is headed by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, while three members of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's cabinet – Bureaucratic Reform Minister Syafruddin, Communication Minister Rudiantara and Agrarian Affairs and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil – serve on its organizing committee.

"The Indonesian Mosque Council issued a recommendation to prohibit the use of mosques as political platforms... The DMI fully supports a safe and peaceful democratic process," it said in the statement.

Indonesia will hold simultaneous legislative and presidential elections next year. Political campaigns for both elections have been ongoing since September, but have yet to gain momentum. The campaigning is set to end on April 13 for a three-day quiet period before the elections.

Despite the Election Law distinctly prohibiting the practice, mosques in the capital were widely used during last year's Jakarta gubernatorial election to drum up support for Muslim candidates running against the incumbent, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian.

Article 280 of the law states: "Election organizers, participants and campaign teams are prohibited from using government facilities, places of worship and schools."

Anies Baswedan and his running mate Sandiaga Uno went on to defeat Ahok and his deputy, Djarot Saiful Hidayat.

Sandiaga resigned as deputy governor this year to compete in next year's presidential election as Prabowo Subianto's running mate.