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Muslims gather at Jakarta's National Monument on Dec. 2 to mark the anniversary of protests that brought down the capital's ethnic-Chinese Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.   © Reuters
Asia Insight

Indonesia's Islamists create re-election minefield for Widodo

President counters smears with emphasis on Jerusalem and Rohingya

ERWIDA MAULIA, Nikkei staff writer | Indonesia

JAKARTA -- Ridwan Kamil, the popular mayor of Bandung in Indonesia's West Java Province, was once touted by Muslim conservatives to be destined for national leadership. But this changed in March when Kamil, previously backed by the opposition, agreed to support President Joko Widodo ahead of the 2019 general election.

Kamil, who will run for West Java governor next year, suddenly found himself on the receiving end of a propaganda campaign portraying him as a "lesser Muslim." He has been blasted for visiting a church during the Christmas season and accused of being a Shiite -- a shunned minority in the Sunni-majority country -- among other smears.

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