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Political Candidate Refuses 'Technical' Koran Reading Test

Banda Aceh, TAG - A candidate running for the head of Singkil District in Aceh has refused to take the compulsory Koranic reading test in protest of what he said were unfair standards.

 Ali Hasim said on Thursday that he was capable of reading the Koran but had refused the test because the standards set by the Aceh Election Commission (KIP) were not realistically achievable by the average person.

The standards set “are very technical, like the ones at Musabaqah Tilawatil Quran,” Ali said, referring to a national Koranic recital competition.

Aceh, which adopts bylaws inspired by Shariah law, is the only province where a mastery of reading the Koran is a requirement for public office candidates.

The KIP requires candidates to meet requirements for accuracy, fluency and ethics in reading the Koran. Seven candidates, including Ali, are eying the post.

On Wednesday, all the other candidates — including Ali’s running mate — took the test. Ali came to the location but refrained from taking it.

“The bylaws only stipulate an ability to read [the Koran],” Ali said. “[The KIP’s] requirements are in place only to embarrass the candidates unable to read the Koran like the experts.”

He argued that the rules were arbitrary and had no bearing on a candidates’ ability to serve.

“What guarantees that the candidates declared capable of reading the Koran will properly implement Islamic principles?” he said. “Will they not practice dirty politics? What guarantee is there, if one passes the test, that they won’t engage in corruption?”

Ali said that he had taken similar tests in 2009 when he was appointed a member of the Aceh legislature.

“But to be evaluated according to the criteria set by the KIP, I can’t. Even an MTQ participant needs years of practice before competing,” he said.

Ali said he would challenge the KIP criteria through the Election Supervisory Body (KPU) and the State Administrative Court.

Akmal Abzal, a member of the KIP, said the standards set by the test were aligned with the Aceh bylaw on elections.

“The ability to read the Koran is a must for all candidates,” he said. “If anyone refuses to take the test, then that candidate will be disqualified.”

Ali said he was willing to risk disqualification.

“Maybe it is not my destiny to become a candidate, but I will launch a legal action because I don’t think the KIP decision is aligned with higher regulations,” he said.

The election is scheduled for Dec. 24, when Acehnese will cast votes for the governor, district head and mayor positions.[]
Political Candidate Refuses 'Technical' Koran Reading Test Political Candidate Refuses 'Technical' Koran Reading Test Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on October 21, 2011 Rating: 5

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