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Political Islam looms over Indonesian polls

Credit: Reuters Studio
Published 1 week ago - Duration: 01:50s

Political Islam looms over Indonesian polls

Religion is becoming politicized in Indonesia as over 192 million people are expected to head to the polls in what will be the world's largest single-day election.

Justin Solomon reports.

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Political Islam looms over Indonesian polls

Behind these gates to a Sharia neighborhood in Indonesia, compulsory hijab zones are enforced, and hotels ask couples for proof of marriage before allowing them to stay.

This is one of a few but growing number of Indonesian neighborhoods that enforce Sharia law.

Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim majority nation but officially, its secular.

It's also seen a dramatic climb in Islamic conservatism.

And religion is set to play a role in national elections Wednesday (April 17).

Analysts say Islam has become politicized among the presidential candidates.

Incumbent Joko Widodo and former general Prabowo Subianto have made efforts to appear 'more Islamic.'

(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) INDONESIAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE, PRABOWO SUBIANTO, SAYING: "Islam will protect everyone, it will not oppress anyone.

But we also need to watch out and make sure no Muslims are being bullied, chased away or threatened." Prabowo held a mass prayer before his recent election rally, in his speeches, he speaks of Indonesia being at the mercy of unspecified foreign powers.

While current president Widodo picked a 76-year old Islamic cleric to be his running mate Some voters say they're concerned about how far faith is being used as a political weapon.

(SOUNDBITE) (Bahasa Indonesia) RESIDENT OF KAMPUNG SAWAH, LUDOVICUS GUNARSO, SAYING: "I see it as a competition, or just people using every means to win a fight.

Hopefully after the election, everything will be good again." Wednesday's election where an estimated 192 million people will vote, will be the world's biggest single-day election in history.

It will also happen very quickly.

Polls are open for just eight hours.

Polls suggest Widodo will clinch another five years in office.

But the opposition are already disputing the figures and claim to have uncovered data irregularities in some lists of voters.

Political analysts are warning of prolonged protests and a ratcheting up of tensions in Southeast Asia's largest economy.

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