Don’t engage with loony rumormongers
The Jakarta Post
The Al-Safar Mosque in West Java is not a shrine to the Antichrist, said M. Taufiqurrahman. But many Indonesians have now heard that absurd conspiracy theory, thanks to the province’s governor, Ridwan Kamil. The rumors were started by popular YouTube preacher Rahmat Baequni, who claimed that Al-Safar’s triangular motifs represent the Illuminati and the Antichrist, “which would make praying inside the mosque null and void.” That is, of course, nonsense. But Ridwan decided to confront the preacher in a public debate, which only allowed Rahmat to further spread his poison. The mosque’s design, Rahmat said, will “enable the Antichrist to realize his apocalyptic ambitions through Zionism.” At that point, the governor should have said he would not dignify such claptrap with his presence and then walked out. Instead, Ridwan continued to insist that the design was innocent, which made it sound like he was trying to hide something. At the end of the debate Ridwan even had his photo taken with Rahmat, perhaps hoping the preacher’s followers would assume a truce had been reached. With that, he “not only elevated Rahmat to a position of power but also normalized him and his abhorrent views.” How many believe the conspiracy theory now?