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TNI Commander and the Muslims
Friday, 06 October, 2017 | 08:06 WIB
TNI Commander and the Muslims

TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The main point of the Indonesian Military (TNI) Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo came at the end of his speech to politicians of the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) at the House of Representatives (DPR). He gave praise which were music to the ears of those Islamic political party figures: "I came here because I am indeed proud of this party, which has consistently upheld national unity."

Those in attendance stood and cheered. Leading PKS figures were elated and thanked Gatot for being a guest speaker in the discussion called Pancasila and National Integration in the context of commemorating the historical events of September 30, 1965, on Wednesday last week. "I conveyed my appreciation for Pak Gatot's willingness to accept our invitation," said PKS DPR Faction Chairman Jazuli Juwaini.

After his speech, Gatot excused himself, as President Joko Widodo was waiting for him at the Presidential Palace. Those PKS elites did not have a chance to chat with him, as he had arrived 30 minutes late for his speech. "This is the second time Pak Gatot has come to see the PKS," said Jazuli.

Those PKS party elites had a positive impression regarding Gatot's piety. Chairman of the DPR's Defense Commission Abdul Kharis Almasyhari feels that Gatot is a devout Muslim. "Whenever it is time for prayers, he will excuse himself to those in the meeting to go and pray," he said.

The PKS mainly became more interested in Gatot after a major demonstration organized by some Islamic groups on December 2 last year at the National Monument. It was a protest rejecting Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama for being Chinese and Christian, which motivated President Jokowi to leave the Palace to meet and speak with the protestors.

Gatot accompanied Jokowi when he went on stage in the pouring rain. Gatot was conspicuous because he was the only person accompanying Jokowi who was wearing a white Muslim cap, similar to the caps worn by the hundreds of thousands of protestors.

Speaking to Rosiana Silalahi from Kompas TV, Gatot said that he intentionally wore the white cap so that he could mingle with the protestors. "I'm Muslim. What's wrong with me wearing a white cap?" he said.

Arifin Ilham, a celebrity preacher who often weeps when leading religious invocations, is also impressed by Gatot's faith. Early last month, Arifin uploaded a photo of himself taken with Gen. Gatot at a mosque. The caption of the photo read: 'A General who Keeps his Ritual Ablutions.' "This photo was taken before the breaking of the fast," he said. 

According to Awaluddin, a member of Arifin Ilham's staff, that photo was taken at the At-Taqwa Mosque at Army Headquarters during this year's Ramadan fasting month. Gatot had invited some ulama (Muslim leaders). In addition to Arifin, another well-known figure invited was Habib Nabiel Al Musawa- a former DPR member from the PKS who now leads the Majelis Rasulullah Pusat, which has many followers.

Nabiel has made several trips to TNI Headquarters in Cilangkap, East Jakarta, to lead prayers. Two weeks ago, he gave the sermon at the Friday congregational prayer, then uploaded a photo of himself with Gatot to Twitter. "Talking with my friend, the friendly and humble TNI Commander, after giving the Friday sermon at TNI Headquarters in Cilangkap. A blessing from the Lord," Nabile wrote.

In addition to inviting ulama to meet, the TNI Commander has gone to many Islamic boarding schools. Last Ramadan, he gave a speech in Tasikmalaya, West Java, during a large rainstorm. In his speech, Gatot said that the national Pancasila philosophy was the ulama's gift to Indonesia, and, for that reason, the ulama will not possibly ruin Pancasila. "So, for soldiers, wherever they may be assigned, they must be with the ulama," he said.

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Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine



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