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Indonesia election

Conservative Islam takes center stage in Indonesia election

President Widodo and religious running mate take 20-point lead

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, center, chose Muslim cleric Ma'ruf Amin, center right, as his running mate. (Photo by Rie Ishii)

JAKARTA -- As Indonesia heads toward a presidential election on April 17, both ruling and opposition parties are increasingly focusing on conservative Muslims, a voter bloc that could decide the contest between incumbent Joko Widodo and his more religious opponent.

Indonesia's Muslim majority is generally considered moderate and tolerant of other religions. But a more firebrand attitude is on the rise, particularly in less urban areas and when it comes to top leadership posts like the presidency. The election of a Christian governor in Jakarta in 2014 has only hardened certain segments of the population.

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