Democratic Party politician Rachland Nasidik denied on Tuesday an accusation made by a lawyer for blasphemy defendant Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama that linked the party’s patron, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to a conspiracy with Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) chairman Ma’ruf Amin.
“It was intended to undermine Yudhoyono’s name,” said Rachland, who is also a spokesman for Jakarta gubernatorial candidate pair Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono and Sylviana Murni.
Rachland was responding to Humphrey Djemat, a member of Ahok’s legal defense team who claimed in court that Yudhoyono had demanded Ma’ruf “issue an edict” declaring a speech by Ahok to be blasphemous. The lawyer made the claim during the eighth session of Ahok’s trial on Tuesday, during which Ma’ruf was present as a witness.
Rachland called Humphrey’s statement “opportunistic” and “an effort to take advantage of the impartiality held by the court”.
Humphrey said in the hearing his team had gathered evidence suggesting Ma’ruf had received a phone call on Oct. 6 from Yudhoyono who demanded the cleric ask Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, “to accept Agus and Sylviana at its headquarters”.
The meeting between NU executives and the candidate pair eventually took place at the NU headquarters on Jl. Kramat Raya, Central Jakarta, on Oct.7. Ma’ruf was present at the meeting.
Ma’ruf said in an earlier statement as quoted by kompas.com that Agus and Sylviana, whose candidacy was backed by the Democratic Party, had a “similarity of thoughts” with NU.
“Political choice and political affiliation of a citizen cannot be constituted as a crime,” Rachland asserted. “Accusing the meeting [of being] a ‘conspiracy ploy to undermine Ahok’s name’ is not only a shallow accusation, but is also an insult to the integrity of the PBNU [NU central board] and its members.”