“Down with pluralism–Â we want him to protect Islam from the dangers of communists, Shiites and Ahmadis”– and then some.
About 1,000 people gathered at Grand Mosque in Yogyakarta on Tuesday at the invitation of a group of Islamic organizations that intended to declare presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto as the “war commander of Muslims”.
Prabowo’s entourage performed their Maghrib evening prayers at the mosque, which is located in the Yogyakarta Palace compound, before visiting Yogyakarta Sultan Hamengkubuwono X at his private residence.
When Prabowo arrived, the United Development Party (PPP) youth wing Gerakan Pemuda Kabah (GPK) greeted Prabowo with yells of “Freedom!” and “Allahu Akbar [God is great]!” while preacher Haidar Waluyo criticized pluralism in his speech.
GPK Yogyakarta branch supervisory body chairman Muhammad Fuad said Muslim mass organizations in Yogyakarta had agreed to confer the title of “war commander” on Prabowo.
They regarded the retired lieutenant general, who was dismissed from military service for his involvement in the kidnapping of pro-democracy activists, as the only hope to prevent Indonesia becoming a secular country.
“This means we want him to protect Islam from the dangers of communists, Shiites and Ahmadis,” Fuad said.
Fuad expressed the hope that if elected, Prabowo would issue pro-Islam regulations.
“As president he will be the highest commander, so he will be able to [issue such regulations] to protect Islam,” Fuad said.
The invitation to meet with Prabowo was signed by several groups, including Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI), Hisbullah, the GPK, and the former commander of the now defunct Laskar Jihad paramilitary group, Ja’far Umar Thalib.
Ja’far was involved in bloody conflict between Muslims and Christians in Maluku.
In a high profile sermon at the same mosque last month, he called on Muslims to wage jihad on infidels and pluralism, because pluralism tolerated the views of all religions.
Ja’far also pointed out that Islam was “a religion of war”, that Muslims “had to love war” and that if they did not, they needed to question why they were Muslims.
However, during Monday’s gathering, the groups were unable to confer the title of “war commander” on Prabowo. His close aides played down the title and put its meaning down to Prabowo being the former son-in-law of former president Soeharto.
“It means Pak Prabowo was trusted,” said Lt. Gen. (ret) Johanes Suryo Prabowo, one of Prabowo’s staunch supporters.
He also added that Prabowo would welcome any individual or group that wanted to support him in the July 9 presidential race.
“This is just a friendship visit. There was no special talks,” Hamengkubuwono said after breaking the fast with Prabowo and his entourage.
Prabowo’s rival Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and the latter’s running mate Jusuf Kalla have already met with Hamengkubuwono and held a closed-door meeting with him for about an hour.
Separately in Semarang, Central Java, the Mijen district branch of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) reportedly seized letters allegedly sent by Prabowo’s campaign team to the teachers of state senior high schools SMA 16 Ngadirgo and SMA 13 Wonolopo asking for support.
Junarto of Bawaslu Mijen said the committee had found 16 of the letters at SMA 16 and 25 others at SMA 13 on Friday.
“They were delivered by a postman and were addressed directly to the teachers using the addresses of the schools,” Junarto said in Semarang on Tuesday.
Bawaslu Mijen chairperson Sri Wahyu Ananingsih said the letters were discovered when the teachers were not at school due to school holidays.
“All [of the letters] have been given to the Semarang election monitoring committee,” Sri Wahyu said. “We will report the result of the clarification to Bawaslu for follow up according to the prevailing regulations.”
Ainur Rohmah in Semarang contributed to this story