JAKARTA • Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto said during the live presidential debate yesterday that he was not in a position to support the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Indonesia, an accusation that he said was recently thrown at him.
He said the accusation was "cruel" and did not "make any sense".
"I am sure Pak Jokowi is a Pancasilaist, patriot and nationalist," Mr Prabowo said, referring to President Joko Widodo by his popular moniker, and the state ideology of Pancasila.
"But I wonder if you realise that some of your supporters have accused me of supporting the creation of a caliphate?" he said during a session on ideology in the debate.
"My mother was a Christian. I was born from the womb of a Christian," Mr Prabowo added.
The retired army general reiterated his stance by saying that altering Pancasila had never crossed his mind.
"Since I was 16 years old, I defended Pancasila. I risked my life, (so) how could I be accused of changing Pancasila? That's cruel," he said.
Mr Prabowo's support among conservative Muslims, including former sympathisers of the now-banned Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia movement, had led to talk that he planned to turn Indonesia into an Islam-based state if elected.
In response, Mr Joko said he believed his rival was a Pancasilaist, nationalist and patriot too.
But he mentioned that false accusations had been thrown at him as well.
"When it comes to accusations, I've also been accused of many things in these past 4½ years, including that I am a communist. This is normal. I've never responded to these accusations," he said.
THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK