Indonesian housewives arrested over election video claiming President Jokowi will ban prayer call

Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who was first elected in 2014, is a practising Muslim and has never publicly pushed for any of the measures mentioned in the video.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo, who was first elected in 2014, is a practising Muslim and has never publicly pushed for any of the measures mentioned in the video.PHOTO: REUTERS

BANDUNG, Indonesia (AFP) - Three Indonesian housewives have been arrested over an online video that claimed President Joko Widodo would ban prayer and make gay marriage legal in the Muslim majority country if re-elected, police said on Monday (Feb 25).

President Joko, better known by his nickname Jokowi, has fended off accusations over his Muslim credentials for years, claims that have been revived ahead of the April presidential elections.

Indonesia has also been battling a wave of fake news and misinformation campaigns online in the lead-up to the polls.

The video, shared thousands of times online, showed two women in hijab headscarves telling an old man that Mr Joko would end the call to prayer, which is performed five times a day by many in the world's most populous Muslim country.

He would also force women to remove their hijab in public and legalise gay marriage, which is widely opposed in Indonesia, the video suggested.

Mr Joko, first elected in 2014, is a practising Muslim and has never publicly pushed for any of the measures mentioned in the video.

Three women "linked" to the video were arrested by East Java provincial police on Sunday (Feb 24) over claims that they were spreading misinformation.

But police did not elaborate on their role.

"This is a preventive measure because this (video) could potentially trigger anxiety and conflict in our society," local police spokesman Trunoyudho Wisnu Andiko told a press conference on Monday.

If convicted, the trio could face up to six years in prison for spreading hate speech and violating a sweeping electronic information law.