Prabowo camp declines Koran reading test, doesn’t want to encourage identity politics

Detik News – December 30, 2018
Prabowo performing Islamic prayers (Laman Berita)
Prabowo performing Islamic prayers (Laman Berita)

Tsarina Maharani, Jakarta – The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) says that there is a party which has a “stomach ache” over the invitation by the Aceh Proselytizing Association Council (Dewan Ikatan Dai Aceh) for presidential and vice presidential candidates to take part in a Koran reading test.

Prabowo Subianto’s Greater Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) has responded with a counter accusation against the PDI-P.

Gerindra Central Leadership Board (DPP) Communication Agency member Andre Rosiade said that the election campaign team (TKN) of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and vice presidential running mate Ma’ruf Amin are actually the one’s with a stomach ache.

This is because several surveys show that the Widodo-Amin ticket’s electability is continuing to decline.

“We don’t have a stomach ache over it. Rather perhaps it’s the Jokowi TKN that has a stomach ache looking at the current situation and seeing the public’s response to Jokowi. Pak [Mr] Prabowo’s agenda is always full right, [his electability] in surveys is also rising. Unlike the other side”, Rosiade told journalists on Sunday December 30.

Rosiade insists that Gerindra chairperson Prabowo, along with his vice presidential running mate Sandiaga Uno, are basically ready to take part in the Koran reading test. Rosiade said however that the Prabowo-Sandiaga election campaign team does not want to get drawn into religious issues any more.

“Actually we’re ready to take part in the Koran reading test, but we have decided not to. This is because right from the start we have been committed to not talking SARA [racial, religious, ethnic and inter-group] issues. Moreover we believe that the religious issue is resolved because both [of our candidates] are Muslim”, said Rosiade who is also a spokesperson for the Prabowo-Sandiaga election campaign team.

“[But] we also acknowledge that on reading the Koran, Yes, Kiai [Islamic teacher] Ma’ruf is the greatest. Because he’s an important ulama [Islamic leader]”, he added.

Currently the Prabowo-Sandiaga campaign team is continuing to focus o economic issues which, according to Rosiade are more important to the public.

“Our country is a composite right, diverse, and the public needs this. Right now the public needs [us] to discuss economic problems, employment opportunities, and the cost of basic commodities”, asserted Rosiade.

Earlier, PDI-P Secretary General Hasto Kristiyanto said that the invitation to take part in a Koran reading test has given certain parties a stomach ache, although he did not reveal which party he meant by this.

“If you follow the logic, this recent test has created problems for a certain party, who initially used religious issues, so the Acehnese public have responded in kind. As the proverb goes, ‘If you hit water in a bucket, you’ll splash your own face’. I could draw an analogy with boxing when a blow to the lower body causes a stomach ache”, said Kristiyanto. (tsa/tor)


There have been a number of recent reports in the Indonesian media suggesting that despite the fact that Prabowo has the backing of a number of hard-line and extremist Islamic groups and has actively courting the moral conservative vote, he is unable to perform Islamic prayers properly and may not be proficient in reading the Koran.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “Jawab PDIP, Gerindra: Kami Tak Ikut Tes Alquran karena Tak Mau SARA”.]