President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s running mate in the 2019 election, Muslim cleric Ma’ruf Amin, has responded to a recent gathering of clerics and Muslim activists who declared support for presidential challenger Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Sandiaga Uno.
Grouped under the National Movement to Safeguard Fatwas (GNPF), the clerics and activists held their second congregation, called Ijtima Ulama II, in Jakarta on Sunday, during which Prabowo signed an “integrity pact”, committing to religion and mullah protection.
Ma’ruf Amin, the chief of Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), was a key person in the GNPF and his picture was on the posters of GNPF during the “defend Islam rallies” against Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in late 2016.
“For us [in Jokowi’s coalition] there is no problem with Ijtima Ulama,” Ma’ruf told reporters after attending a meeting with the Jokowi-Ma’ruf campaign team on Monday.
Although the Ijtima Ulema claims to representing clerics, Ma’ruf, who is also the supreme leader of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), questioned who the clerics were and which pesantren (Islamic boarding school) they represented or were affiliated with.
Ma’ruf said that 400 grand kyai (Muslim elders) and leaders of pesantrenacross the country, including senior NU cleric Abuya Muhtadi from Banten, West Java, gathered in Jakarta on Saturday last week and declared their support for Jokowi-Ma’ruf in the 2019 election.
“We consider [support from pesantren] more significant,” Ma’ruf said, “So for us, Ijtima Ulama II will not have any impact.”
Ma’ruf further brushed off concerns that the issue would create a division between Muslim leaders in the country, saying it was the clerics decision whether to take sides. “We feel at ease because grand kyai support Jokowi and Ma’ruf Amin, so [we are] very happy,” Ma’ruf went on to say.