Indonesia: Vice Presidential Candidate Has Anti-Rights Record
 Amin’s Abusive Fatwas Put Burden on Jokowi to Defend Rights EXPAND

 Joko Widodo, Indonesia's president, left, stands for photographs with Ma'ruf 
Amin, top Islamic cleric and vice presidential candidate, after submitting 
their nomination papers to the General Election Commission in Jakarta, 
Indonesia, on Friday, Aug. 10, 2018. 
 © 2018 Dimas Ardian/ Bloomberg via Getty Images
 (Jakarta) – The decision by Indonesian 
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to select Ma’ruf Amin as his vice-presidential 
running mate
 in the 2019 presidential election, raises questions about Jokowi’s commitment 
to improve human rights protection for all Indonesians, Human Rights Watch said 
 Amin, who has been the chairman of Indonesia’s Ulama Council (Majelis Ulama 
Indonesia, or MUI), the semi-official umbrella organization of Islamic group 
since 2007, and the supreme leader 
of the Nahdlatul Ulama – Indonesia’s largest mass Muslim organization – since 
 has played a pivotal role in fuelling worsening discrimination against the 
country’s religious and gender minorities.
 Over the past two decades at the MUI, Amin has helped draft and been a vocal 
supporter of fatwas, or religious edicts decrees, against the rights of 
religious minorities, including the country’s Ahmadiyah and Shia communities, 
as well lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. Those fatwas, 
although not legally binding, have been used to legitimize increasingly hateful 
 by government officials against LGBT people and in some cases, fuelled deadly 
 by militant Islamists against religious minorities.
 “Amin has been central to some of the most intolerant elements of Indonesian 
contemporary religious and political culture, so fear of the negative impact he 
could have on the rights and safety of religious and gender minorities is well 
founded,” said Phelim Kine, deputy 
director of Asia division at Human Rights Watch.
 Jokowi explained his decision to make Amin
 his running mate on the basis that “we complete each other, nationalistic and 
religious.” Jokowi has been the target of attacks by his opponents who 
questioned his religious piety by accusing him of pursuing “liberal secularism,”
 and of secretly being Christian
 or the son of communist parents
 Amin’s selection indicates an effort at least in part to rebut these attacks.
 Ma’ruf Amin has a well-documented history of intolerant views:
 In October 2016, the MUI declared
 that then- Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama,  a Christian, had committed
 blasphemy against Islam. That fueled the creation of a radical anti-Ahok 
Islamist alliance that led to 
his political downfall and eventual imprisonment for
 violation of the country’s blasphemy law. In February 2016, the MUI issued a 
fatwa calling for the criminalization of LGBT activities
 Amin personally justified the fatwa
 on the basis that “homosexuality, whether lesbian or gay, and sodomy is 
legally haram and a form of crime,” That fatwa has helped fuel dangerous levels 
of anti-LGBT discrimination 
and led to arbitrary and unlawful raids by police and militant Islamists on 
private LGBT gatherings. These abuses have effectively derailed
 public health outreach efforts to populations vulnerable to HIV infection. In 
March 2015, the MUI issued a fatwa calling for same-sex acts to be subject to 
punishments ranging from caning to the death penalty. The fatwa equates 
homosexuality with a curable disease
 with related sexual acts “that must be heavily punished.” In 2008, the MUI 
responded to a 2006 Ministry of Health ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) 
by issuing a fatwa
 supporting FGM and declaring that “it is a form of honor for women.” In 2005, 
when Amin chaired the MUI’s fatwa commission, the organization issued a fatwa
 that decreed that the Ahmadiyah, an Islamic revivalist movement, deviated from 
Quranic teachings. The government responded to that fatwa in 2008 by passing a 
nationwide anti-Ahmadiyah decree
 that bans the Ahmadiyah from proselytizing their faith. Since then, Islamist 
militants have repeatedly attacked 
the Ahmadiyah community, often with the passive or active involvement of 
government officials and security forces. Jokowi’s decision to make Amin his 
running mate will compound widespread public cynicism
 about his administration’s failure to deliver on electoral promises to address 
Indonesia’s pressing human rights problems. He has released some Papuan 
political prisoners and announced a vague plan 
to address decades of gross human rights violations, including the massacre of 
up to 1 million people in 1965-1966.
 However, Jokowi has largely ignored security force impunity for rights abuses 
and violations of women’s rights and religious freedom. He has also embraced 
the use of the death penalty 
for convicted drug traffickers and has spoken out only once, and in highly 
ambiguous terms,
 in defense of the country’s beleaguered LGBT population. During Indonesia’s 
May 2017 United Nations Universal Periodic Review (UPR
 process, the Indonesian government rejected multiple recommendations by UN 
member states including those on issues related to the rights of LGBT people, 
the abusive blasphemy law,
 and the death penalty 
An Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs official described the 
 as “hard to accept” for reasons including the vague and undefined notion of 
“Indonesian conditions.”
 “Ma’ruf Amin has already shown he has no hesitation in putting vulnerable 
minorities at risk,” Kine said. “Jokowi will need to prove that he values his 
obligation to defend the rights and dignity of all the Indonesian people above 
pandering to extreme intolerance for short term political gain.”


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