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Jakarta Post

‘Anti-kafir’ politics in local elections: Jakarta and Medan cases

  • AE Priyono and Teresa Birks

Jakarta   /   Tue, September 18 2012   /  10:46 am

The politicization of religion in the Jakarta gubernatorial election isn’t without precedent.In Medan, North Sumatra, religious identity took on unprecedented importance in the 2010 mayoral election where it was used to undermine the legitimacy of mayoral candidate Sofyan Tan.Being ethnically Chinese and Buddhist, it was a surprise to many that he and his running mate, Nelly Armayanti (a Minangkabau Muslim woman), made it through to the second round. Some hailed his success a sign that the people of Medan were moving away from voting along ethnic and religious lines.Yet during the second round of the election it became increasingly clear that as a kafir (infidel) Sofyan Tan quite simply could not be allowed to win. In Jakarta, the victim of identity politics is Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, alias Ahok. As Joko Widodo’s (alias Jokowi) running mate, he has been targeted for being ethnically ...