President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced his running mate on Thursday evening, eventually picking nonpolitical party figure Ma’ruf Amin as his vice presidential candidate.
“Prof. Ma’ruf, who was born in Tangerang, is a completely religious figure, who is wise [...] He has been a lawmaker, councillor, MPR [People’s Consultative Assembly] member, presidential advisory council member, supreme leader of the PBNU [Nahdlatul Ulama central board] and chairman of the MUI [Indonesian Ulema Council]. He is also a board member of [Pancasila body] BPIP,” Jokowi told a press conference in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Thursday evening.
The two are set to register their candidacy with the General Elections Commission (KPU) in Central Jakarta on Friday morning.
Ma’ruf, who was born in Banten on March 11, 1943, is currently one of the most powerful and influential Muslim figures in the predominantly Muslim nation. He currently chairs the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s top Muslim clerical body comprising all registered Muslim organizations, including Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Muhammadiyah and the Islamic Union (Persis). The council is a central authority that issues fatwas and it gives recommendations on issuing halal certificates.
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Ma’ruf is also the rais aam (supreme leader) of NU, the country’s largest Muslim organization that is also affiliated to the National Awakening Party (PKB), a member of Jokowi’s coalition. In 2017, he received an honorary degree as a professor in sharia economy from Maulana Malik Ibrahim Islamic State University of Malang in East Java.
He is not new to politics and governance. Ma’ruf was a key member of the Presidential Advisory Council (Wantimpres) during the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration.
As MUI chairman, he supported controversial regulations, including the Pornography Law and the joint ministerial decree banning the activities of minority group Ahmadiyah, saying in 2013 that such regulations were “very much expected”.
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In 2017, Ma’ruf was a key expert witness in a highly publicized blasphemy trial that sent then Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama to prison for two years. As the chairman of the MUI, Ma'ruf signed a document recommending that the statement Ahok made in Thousand Islands regency in September 2016, which suggested that a Quranic verse had been exploited by certain people, be considered “blasphemous” for insulting Islam.
Ma'ruf Amin is also a board member of the Sharia Cooperative 212, along with Arifin Ilham and Abdullah Gymnastiar. The cooperative runs several convenience stores that are expected to create a strong Muslim economy.
In December 2017, Ma'ruf said he regretted the Constitutional Court's decision that rejected a petition from the Family Love Alliance (AILA) to criminalize gay sex. "We want a stern prohibition of LGBT activities and other deviant sexual activities and legislation that categorizes them as crime," MUI chairman Maruf Amin said in 2016. (evi)
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