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Jakarta Post

Bawaslu examines tabloid distributed to mosques ahead of elections

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Tue, January 22, 2019   /   02:36 pm
Bawaslu examines tabloid distributed to mosques ahead of elections West Java Bawaslu's Zaki Hilmi said the central Bawaslu was being consulted because the tabloid had also been circulated in Central Java. It will involve the Press Council to determine whether the tabloid could be considered journalistic work. (Wikimedia Commons/musnahterinjak)

The West Java Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) is reviewing the Indonesia Barokah tabloid, which has been distributed to mosques and pesantren (Islamic boarding schools) in the province ahead of the upcoming elections.

“One mosque got one or two copies of the tabloid send by mail,” West Java Bawaslu member Zaki Hilmi said Sunday.

The front page of the first edition of the tabloid, dated December 2018, has an article titled “Reuni 212: Kepentingan Umat atau Kepentingan Politik.” (Reunion 212: People or Political Interests).

“We have found 15 copies in total,” said Zaki, adding that the tabloid seemed to have been distributed over the weekend.

Zaki said his office had received reports that the tabloid had been distributed in Kuningan regency, Subang, Tasikmalaya city, Purwakarta regency and Sukabumi regency. 

He said in its “Salam Redaksi" (Editorial Greeting) it claimed that the two-monthly tabloid was published as a media for Islamic teachings and education targeting mosque congregations, pesantren and other Islam-based education institutions. Its editorial office is located on Jl. Haji Kerenkemi Rawa Bacang, Jatirahayu, Pondok Melati subdistrict, Bekasi.

The tabloid also presents the stories of Muslim figures declared national heroes during the presidency of Joko "Jokowi" Widodo. It has a special report titled “Deceiving the public for political victory”. On another page it has published “Hoax disrupts stability and security”. In the Tabayyun rubric it highlights Obor Rakyat tabloid's “The origin of Jokowi & foreign accomplice defamation”.

Obor Rakyat's editors, Setyardi Budiono and Darmawan Sepriyosa, were imprisoned in December for spreading false news about Jokowi during 2014 election campaign.

Zaki said his side was coordinating with the central Bawaslu because the tabloid had also been circulated in Central Java. It will involve the Press Council to determine whether the tabloid could be considered journalistic work.

He said his side had yet to reach a conclusion on whether the tabloid was conducting a smear campaign against any camp.

He said a campaign served as political education and as such, it was not allowed to disrupt public order or incite or revile individuals or groups.

“We are studying whether or not this is [categorized as] campaign material that can only last for 21 days. We have yet to reach a conclusion,” Zaki said.