Chaidir Muhammad – The uproar over a speech by presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto in which he said that Boyolali people would not be able to get into fancy hotels because they have "Boyolali faces" is reminiscent of the blasphemy case involving former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.
Responding to similarities between the two cases, the Prabowo-Sandiaga Uno election campaign team (Badan Pemenangan Nasional, BPN) says that the two are not the same. BPN spokesperson Ferry Juliantono explained that the two cases of Prabowo and Purnama's videos going viral are completely different.
Juliantono said that the Purnama case was different because it involved religious issues. Purnama was said to have quoted from a passage in the Quran while he himself is not a Muslim.
"He was not from the Islamic religion so the response was that there had been an act of blasphemy", explained Juliantono as quoted by the Java Post on Monday October 5.
Juliantono continued by saying that in the case of the video of Prabowo's speech which was seen as belittling the dignity of Boyolali residents, there was no intention to offend the feelings of Boyolali residents.
It was instead only intended to as a parable about economic inequality which has become a national phenomenon. "In the speech there was no intent to offend, it was only intended to convey inequality", he said.
And this, according to Juliantono, distinguishes which remark is offensive and which remark isn't. The worst thing, he said, is that this time it was manipulated by certain parties with the aim of influencing the Boyolali community.
"There were parties which intentionally used this issue, we are asking that the issue not be manipulated for political interests", he asserted.
As has been reported, during the official opening of a Prabowo-Sandiaga election campaign office in Boyolali, Central Java, Prabowo said that Boyolali residents would not be able to get into a high-class hotel because they do not have the faces of rich people.
"Just to mention a few of the fancy international hotels which are the most expensive that are in Jakarta, there's the Ritz Charlton, the Waldorf Astoria. You probably couldn't even pronounce the names, and there are all sorts. I'm sure you've never gone into these hotels. Right? (Right answered the audience). And if you did go in, perhaps you would be kicked out. Perhaps your faces are not the faces of rich people. Your faces are like that of the Boyolali [people]", said Prabowo. (**/JPC)
Former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama – a ethnic Chinese Christian – ran afoul of conservative Islamic groups after a doctored video circulated on social media that appeared to depict him insulting the Quran, when in fact he was warning the public not to trust politicians who quote from the holy book to convince them not to vote for non-Muslims. In December 2016 Islamic groups with the financial and political backing of sections of the political elite mobilised hundreds of thousands in series of so-call "Defend Islam" actions in a successful effort to force police to charge Purnama with blasphemy. Purnama – who had been the clear favourite to win – subsequently lost the election to the Prabowo backed Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket and in May 2017 was convicted of blasphemy and jailed for two years.
[Translated by James Balowski for the Indoleft News Service. The original title of the article was "Pidato Boyolali Prabowo Mirip Pidato Ahok yang Dipotong dan Diviralkan".]