Jakarta – Muslim preacher Tengku Zulkarnain, widely known for his political remarks critical of the Joko "Jokowi" Widodo government, died on Monday at the age of 57 while being treated for Covid-19.
Local media said he was admitted to Tabrani Hospital in the Riau province capital, Pekanbaru, on May 2 after testing positive for Covid-19.
"Farewell to Tengku Zulkarnain, who is now meeting his maker. I was often targeted by his groundless criticisms but I remained silent because I knew he was fighting for a cause," Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Mahfud MD tweeted,
"I learned about his passing just now and I already miss him. May God provide mercy and lead his soul to Heaven," he wrote.
Born in Medan, North Sumatra in August 1963, Tengku has served as deputy secretary-general in the powerful Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) which has the authority to provide halal label on consumer products and issue Islamic edicts on various issues.
He left the council after five years in 2020 following a leadership succession.
He was very active on Twitter and got his own preaching show on news network TV One.
On an August 2019 tweet, he proposed a law that allows prosecution against the Indonesian president for "telling a lie".
"There is a law against insulting the president and punishable by jail term. To make it fair, we need a law under which the president can be imprisoned for lying to his people," he wrote.
In an interview with YouTuber Refly Harun published in June 2020, Tengku said he would only support the government if President Jokowi passed away and was replaced by Vice President Ma'ruf Amin, a former chairman of the MUI.
"I cannot get along with Mr. Jokowi because there is the PDI-P [Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle] behind him," Tengku said in the interview, arguing that the ruling party didn't do enough for Islam.
He opposed government's plan to relocate the capital from Jakarta to East Kalimantan, tweeting that the new location is "within the reach of Chinese missiles".
Tengku is survived by a wife and two daughters.