The Constitutional Court in Central Jakarta. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Ulemas From Prabowo's Electoral Strongholds Stifle Calls for More Street Protests


JUNE 24, 2019

Jakarta. Religious leaders, including heads of Islamic boarding schools, from Prabowo Subianto's electoral strongholds have called on Muslims to refrain from participating in street protests during the election dispute trial at the Constitutional Court.

"I urge restraint. Muslims have to maintain unity," said M. Saidih Hz., the chairman of the South Tangerang branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council, on Sunday.

Saidih made the statement at an event in Tangerang, Banten, one of Prabowo Subianto's electoral strongholds. 

Saidih's call came after a message spread on social media and WhatsApp group chats urging Muslims to take part in street demonstrations at the Constitutional Court from Monday to Friday.

The event has been called "Halal Bi Halal Akbar 212" ("Grand Meet-Up 212"), a clear reference to a similarly named street protest to bring down Jakarta's former governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in 2016.

The street demonstrations are planned to take place at the same time as the Constitutional Court convenes behind closed doors after days of hearing witness testimonies

Legal teams acting on behalf of Prabowo Subianto, who filed a suit at the court alleging "massive and systematic" frauds in April's election, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and the General Elections Commission, have all made their cases last week. 

"Demonstration will not solve anything," Saidih said. 

"Muslims are an important political force in our democracy. We should refrain from participating in street demonstrations that can be seen as unconstitutional," he said.

"If left unchecked, [unconstitutional actions] can sow seeds of division. Islam as a religion is rahmatan lilalamin; it always puts unity first," Saidih said.

Muslihuddin, the head of the Almuqriyah pesantren (Islamic boarding school) said Muslims should ignore provocations by the country's political elites.

"Islam is not intolerant. Muslims should not insult, slander or spread false news against each other," he said.

Police Skeptical of Motive 

The Halal Bi Halal Akbar 212 poster shared online promises a peaceful gathering filled with prayers. Novel Bamukmin, a spokesman from the "212 Alumni Brotherhood," said they merely want to urge the Constitutional Court judges to act fairly and independently. 

Andre Rosiade, a spokesman for Prabowo's campaign team, said they will follow Prabowo's order to avoid mass gathering or protest during the court proceedings.

"But we cannot stop [those who still want to go]," he said. 

The police said they are worried the demonstrations will take a violent turn, just as they did last month. 

"Police discretion was abused [during the Jakarta riots last month]. If you want to hold a halal bi halal, do it at home," Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Cmr. Argo Yuwono said on Sunday.

He said the police will turn people away from Jakarta if they can't state their purpose of coming to the capital.

"Any action on the streets or in front of the Constitutional Court is prohibited by the law because it disrupts public order," Argo said.