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03/27/2019 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – Indonesia is counting down to its presidential and legislative elections, scheduled to take place on April 17. Fearing that mosques would be used to manipulate voters’ preferences, mosque administrators have launched a crackdown on politicians trying to use the places of worship to serve their own ends during campaigning.

Those who use mosques for their political activities, which is against the law, will face a maximum of 2 years in prison and/or a fine of 24 million Rupiah (US$1,700).

According to UCA News, Remaja Masjid — the youth arm of the Indonesia Mosque Council — in partnership with the Election Supervisory Board launched their “Stop Campaigning in Mosques” drive on March 24, when the presidential candidates began staging large-scale rallies ahead of the polls.

Any individual or mosque managers are encouraged to report any violations committed by politicians or political parties at the 729,000 mosques throughout the country.

“Mosques must be guarded so they are not contaminated by irresponsible people,” said Haris Zainuddi, general secretary of Remaja Masjid. “Mosques have often been used, wrongly, as hives of political activity,” he added.

During the Jakarta governor election in 2017, many Muslims gathered at mosques to receive political guidance before casting their votes, which many believe led to the defeat of Chinese Christian candidate Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

For interviews with Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected]