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Presidential hopeful Baswedan seen as seeking support from Islamic vigilante group

Republika - September 28, 2023

Wahyu Suryana, Jakarta – The attendance of presumptive presidential and vice presidential candidates Anies Baswedan and Muhaimin Iskandar at the wedding of Islamic Brotherhood Front (formerly the Islamic Defenders Front, FPI) spiritual leader Habib Rizieq Shihab's (HRS) daughter on September 27 has attracted much public discussion.

Political observer Adi Prayitno says this proves that politics does indeed not know any boundaries or barriers.

"In principle, politics doesn't know any boundaries or barriers. Even if in the past it was as if HRS was close to [Greater Indonesia Movement Party Chairperson] Prabowo [Subianto] in the [2019] presidential elections, but we know that in 2017, the FPI in particular, was indeed behind Anies's political movement [during the Jakarta gubernatorial elections]", Prayitno told Republika on Thursday September 28.

Prayitno is of the view that there will indeed be tendency for Shihab and his followers to become involved in the 2024 elections and may be closer to Baswedan then Prabowo. Moreover this tendency has already been shown the FPI elite who are disappointed with Prabowo.

This is primarily over Prabowo's decision to move closer to his former rival President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and accept the appointment as Defense Minister. Prayitno said that not a few of Shihab's followers have publically said that they no longer want to be involved with Prabowo.

"So, it's not surprising that for 2024, HRS is very likely to support Anies", said the Executive Director of the polling institute Indonesian Political Parameter (PPI).

Nevertheless, Prayitno feels that what would have been of interest to many is seeing National Awakening Party (PKB) Chairperson Muhaimin Iskandar there. Especially since the PKB's constituent base, the majority of which are members of the moderate Islamic mass organisation Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), have often confronted and been at odds with Shihab and his followers.

"This is of course all because it's a matter of politics, so politics does indeed look out for all [opportunities], politics can bring anyone together, or at least at the PKB level, Muhaimin can sit together with and be present at the marriage of HRS' daughter", he said.

Prayitno feels that this is something that the public had never imagined before. After this, Prayitno stressed, what will be awaited most, is of course the attitude of the PKB's supporters over Iskandar's closeness to Shihab.

Because, in terms of Baswedan's supporters, they are already very accustomed to and even many are of the same cut as Shihab's followers. Aside from this, quite a few of Baswedan's supporters have been affiliated with Shihab and his followers.

Conversely he warned, up until now Shihab and his followers have kept their distance diametrically from and been in confrontation with NU. Meaning there is a big and thick wall separating Shihab and his followers and NU.

"The two poles that up until now have been different, there is political speculation that we can witness in the future, whether or not Muhaimin Iskandar's supporters, the majority of which are NU, will make an issue over this meeting or in fact become angry", said Prayitno.

[Translated by James Balowski. Some additional text was added to provide context for non-Indonesian readers. The original title of the article was "Soal Pertemuannya dengan Anies-Muhaimin, Pengamat: HRS Sangat Mungkin Mengukung".]

Source: https://rejabar.republika.co.id/berita/s1or2f396/soal-pertemuannya-dengan-aniesmuhaimin-pengamat-hrs-sangat-mungkin-mengukun