The Jakarta Post
Two major opposition figures, Prabowo Subianto and Amien Rais, are currently in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for a religious pilgrimage, sparking rumors of a possible meeting with firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab.
Gerindra Party deputy chairman Fery Juliantono told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that his party’s chief patron flew to Mecca directly from Europe on Friday, while the National Mandate Party’s (PAN) chief patron reportedly went to Mecca from Medina.
Desmond Junaidi Mahesa, another Gerindra politician, confirmed the meeting between Prabowo and Amien in Mecca, but stopped short of confirming if the two would meet with Rizieq, who fled to Saudi Arabia while being investigated for his alleged role in a pornography case.
Rumors swirled on Saturday that Prabowo and Amien may have met with Rizieq to talk about the 2019 presidential election.
Prabowo has been tapped as a presidential candidate by his party and is now seeking to build a strong coalition to challenge President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo again next year.
The former general is also looking to find a running mate, with Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan being tipped as one of the candidates with the most potential.
Rizieq's support may prove significant for Prabowo, with the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader now seen as an influential leader among Muslims supportive of the Dec. 2, 2016, rally against then-Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama.
An alliance of Islamist groups linked to the rally — which calls itself the Brotherhood of 212 Alumni — has declared its support for Rizieq as a potential presidential candidate.
Habiburokhman, another Gerindra politician, said on Twitter that a meeting of "national figures" like Prabowo, Amien and Rizieq would be good for the country.
A tweet sent from his account @habiburokhman read: “Everyone is allowed to be close to and support [Prabowo], as well as other figures of other religions.” (ahw)