Christian governor Ahok used to enjoy a 70% approval rating but then came his blasphemy trial for allegedly insulting Islam. Now the vote is too close to call [img]'https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/52a438c9f74df25dab95d69720c19cc80a37f3a6/0_0_4096_2459/master/4096.jpg?w=1200&h=630&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=crop&crop=faces%2Centropy&bm=normal&ba=bottom%2Cleft&blend64=aHR0cHM6Ly91cGxvYWRzLmd1aW0uY28udWsvMjAxNi8wNS8yNS9vdmVybGF5LWxvZ28tMTIwMC05MF9vcHQucG5n&s=2baf306bc08c61d717c809ab6e507119' It was in 2004, as a PhD student in political science at Northern Illinois University, that Anies Baswedan would ponder the future interplay between Islam and Indonesia. In his paper, political Islam in Indonesia, present and future trajectory,Baswedan pointed out that, fertile ground exists for Islam-friendly political parties to attract considerable support from Muslim voters. Muslim voters, he explains in the footnotes, referred to devout and practising adherents of the faith. More than a decade on, Baswedan is campaigning to become Jakartas next governor and seems to have wholeheartedly taken his own advice. Analysts say he has overtly courted the Muslim vote in the tight race against the ethnic Chinese Christian incumbent, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok. On Wednesday, more than 7 million Jakartans will head to the polls in one of the most contested elections to date, marked by several massive, Islamic-inspired anti-Ahok rallies late last year, and an ongoing controversial blasphemy trial.
[img]https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/f1fe86f724808cfa4178a59b7f659d34a073ae5c/0_88_3000_1800/master/3000.jpg?w=300&q=55&auto=format&usm=12&fit=max&s=8f42d54d5aa14aa2c04baebf34bd350f Protesters gather for a protest against minority Christian governor Basuki Ahok Tjahaja Purnama at the main business district in Jakarta in March 2017. Photograph: Tatan Syuflana/AP Basewdan, agrees Jemadu, is less statesman, more politician these days. I dont think that you can categorise him [Baswedan] as a man of principle, says professor Jemadu, He is quite pragmatic. Whatever benefits him he will take it, from one camp to another camp changing his principles, his values, all the way. Amid the blasphemy proceedings, the sometimes-brash Ahok has kept a lower than normal profile, opting for slick social media coverage and largely refusing interviews. Anies is against Ahok, and Ahok is Christian The ethnic Chinese Christian governor understands the importance of religious symbols, too. Three days before the vote he is scheduled to inaugurate a new government-funded mosque in West Jakarta, with the president, Joko Widodo, by his side. The use of religious symbols is nothing new in Indonesian politics, but the differences, ethnic and religious, have perhaps never been so stark, or as sensitive. In neighbourhoods across the capital the idea that Muslims must choose Muslim leaders has spread over recent months, propagated in anti-Ahok pamphlets and banners strung up at local mosques, which threaten to deny funeral rights to Muslims who vote for Ahok.