Religious Bullying in Elections

Jun 7th, 2006, in News, by

An official from a body that seeks to educate the public on elections says many local and regional elections are marred by candidates use of religious symbols and language.

Lukman Budiman Tadjo of the Jaringan Pendidikan Pemilih untuk Rakyat (JPPR) says that regent and mayoral candidates in the provinces are increasingly using faith based symbols and words as a way of intimidating people into supporting them. Two extreme example mentioned are:

In Tasikmalaya (West Java), and Muna (Central Sulawesi) religious leaders issued fatwas that threatened voters with hellfire if they did not support certain candidates.

while speaking at a press conference at the Sari Pan Pasifik Hotel in Jakarta.

Some candidates also make ostentatious donations to mosques, or hand out free headscarves and copies of religious texts. He named the areas of Asahan (North Sumatra), Kendal (Central Java), and Jember (East Java) as places where these practises had been known to occur.

And he also made note of more traditional forms of electoral bribery such as the handing out of envelopes containing twenty to fifty thousand rupiah ($2 to $5) which he said had occured in Sumenep and Sidoarjo in East Java, the aforementioned Muna and Asahan, and also Sukabumi in West Java.

Adung A. Rochman, also of the JPPR, added that religious intimidation was also used by sitting mayors and regents, and their opponents, and mentioned the case of the charges of blasphemy leveled at the regent of Banyuwangi recently.

If mobs using religious symbols succeed in bringing down heads of regional governments then the same methods will be used in other areas.

See also Local & Regional Laws.

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