The Jakarta Post
A coalition claiming to represent Islamic mass organizations has called on Islamic-based political parties to form an alliance and endorse their own candidate for the upcoming presidential election.
The request emerged at a closed-door a meeting between the coalition and leaders of Islamic-based political parties on Thursday evening in Cikini, Central Jakarta.
Muslim scholar Taufan Maulamin, one of the event organizers, said the coalition expected Islamic-based political parties to collectively endorse a presidential contender who was able to fully represent the interests of Muslims.
'It is hurtful to learn that Islam has been misunderstood as [a representation of] Arab [culture]. There's clearly an Islamophobic element in our politics, which has prompted Muslims in the country to act, unite and endorse a coalition of Islamic parties [for the presidential election],' he told The Jakarta Post on the sidelines of the meeting.
Islamic People's Forum (FUI) secretary-general Muhammad Gatot Saptono, popularly known as Muhammad Al-Khaththath, who attended the meeting, said Islamic-based political parties must endorse a presidential candidate who 'is close to Muslims'.
'We hope all five [Islamic-based] parties, or at least four, make an alliance and endorse their own [presidential] candidate,' said Gatot, who ran as a candidate for the Crescent Star Party (PBB) in the April 9 legislative election.
In 2012, the FUI made headlines after members of the organization, along with the Islam Defenders Front (FPI), staged a rally to protest the planned concert of American pop singer Lady Gaga in Jakarta.
Many pre-election surveys suggested that Islamic-based parties would see a decline in popularity in the legislative election, but the results have so far proved otherwise.
The majority of quick counts found that the National Awakening Party (PKB) garnered at least 9 percent of the vote, followed by the National Mandate Party (PAN) with around 7 percent, the United Development Party (PPP) with more than 6 percent and the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) with 5 percent.
The PBB, meanwhile, was the most underperforming Islamic-based party, garnering around 1.5 percent of the vote in quick counts, far below the electoral threshold of 3.5 percent.
In total, the five political parties garnered around 30 percent of the vote, more than enough to make them collectively eligible to nominate a candidate for the July 9 presidential election.
The Presidential Election Law stipulates that only political parties or coalitions of parties that garner 20 percent of legislative seats or 25 percent of the popular vote are eligible to contest presidential elections.
Among the politicians attending the meeting were former Muhammadiyah chairman and PAN co-founder Amien Rais, PAN politician and Administrative Reforms Minister Azwar Abubakar, PKS chairman Anis Matta, PKS lawmakers Fahri Hamzah, Hidayat Nur Wahid and Ahmad Zainuddin, PKB lawmaker and treasurer Bahruddin Nashori, and PPP politician and former Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) chief of staff Maj. Gen. (ret) Kivlan Zen.