The Jakarta Post
A recent survey has revealed that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo is considered to be more religious than his challenger in the 2019 presidential election, Prabowo Subianto.
A survey commissioned by Indikator Politik Indonesia polled 1,220 respondents from Sept. 1 to 6, asking them about their views on the two presidential candidates.
In terms of personal branding, 76 percent of the respondents consider Jokowi to be religious and pious, while 58 percent say Prabowo is religious and pious.
“Jokowi has, since last year, successfully portrayed himself as a religious person. He has frequently visited ulama, kyai [religious teachers] and religious figures across the country,” Indikator executive director Burhanuddin Muhtadi said on Wednesday.
Since early last year, Jokowi has made many visits to Islamic boarding schools, mostly across Java, and met with senior religious figures from various Muslim groups in different regions.
In April, Jokowi also invited representatives of the self-proclaimed 212 Rally Alumni group, which comprises groups and activists who participated in nonviolent protests in 2016 to call for the prosecution of then-Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of Jokowi, over blasphemy.
Burhanuddin said Jokowi’s running mate Ma’ruf Amin, a prominent Muslim cleric, also contributed to the newfound religious branding, though it was not the main factor.
Eighty-two percent of respondents said Ma’ruf was religious and pious, while 63 percent said the same for Prabowo's running mate, Sandiaga Uno.
Jokowi has been labeled as anti-Islam and pro-communist by hard-line groups, while Prabowo is portrayed as pro-Islam because he is a longtime ally of the Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) and close to the Muslim conservative groups that were behind the 212 rally.
Burhanuddin said Jokowi and Prabowo represented different Muslim blocks with different perspectives.
“For example, PAN [National Mandate Party] and PKS [Prosperous Justice Party] represent modernist Muslim groups. That’s why such groups throw support behind Prabowo,” he said.
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) senior politician Maruarar Sirait acknowledged that the anti-Islam image associated with Jokowi was of concern for the Jokowi camp, saying that the decision to pair Jokowi with Ma’ruf, an influential Muslim cleric, was a way to address the issue.
“We hope that people can engage in constructive discussions [on issues] such as economic problems, rather than sectarian issues,” he said. (swd)