'Nazi' music video backfires on Indonesia's Prabowo
JAKARTA, Indonesia - It was supposed to draw more youth support to Indonesian presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate Hatta Rajasa, but the music video featuring a famous Indonesian rock star wearing a Nazi-style uniform has instead attracted international criticism.
The music video features Indonesian Idol judge Ahmad Dhani and 3 other singers chanting "Prabowo-Hatta! Indonesia bangkit!" (Prabowo-Hatta! Rise up Indonesia!) to the tune of the classic Queen song "We Will Rock You."
The video was uploaded sometime ago, but German magazine Der Spiegel drew attention to it on Tuesday, June 24, when it wrote that Dhani's black uniform jacket was similar to the uniform of the SS leader Heinrich Himmler.
Time magazine called it "One of the Worst Pieces of Political Campaigning Ever" in a piece that said, "it is particularly telling that fascist imagery has been used to drum up support for Prabowo, who was discharged from military in 1998 over the abduction of pro-democracy activists."
Brian May, the lead guitarist of Queen, even commented on the video in a tweet.
Indonesian netizens have been quick to slam the video. Indonesian-born international singer Anggun Cipta Sasmi tweeted she was "shocked, disappointed, embarrassed and sad" upon seeing the photo and reading the Der Spiegel article.
A Twitter user called frizedianto added Dhani wanted Prabowo to be a "Hitler-style" ruler – "fascist, intolerant and authoritarian."
Prabowo initially thanked Dhani and others behind the video in a Facebook post on June 20. But in the wake of the criticisms, Prabowo's campaign distanced itself from the song, with spokesman Tantowi Yahya saying, "This video is not a product of the campaign team."
Dradjad Wibowo, the director for policy and programs of Prabowo's campaign team, was quoted by Indonesian news portal Kompas.com as saying, "If it is really a Nazi clothing, we will ask Dhani to change the video and perhaps he needs to apologize."
However, the Indonesian singer appeared unrepentant, telling news website Detik, "The Indonesian people were not involved in the killing of millions of Jews, right?"
The furor reflected sensitivity about a potential Prabowo presidency.
He previously admitted ordering the abduction of democracy activists in the dying days of the 3-decade Suharto dictatorship in 1998, and has also been accused of human rights abuses in East Timor.
Despite concerns about his dark past, Prabowo has in recent weeks narrowed the gap against Joko Widodo, who won legions of supporters during his time as Jakarta governor. A poll out Wednesday showed him only 4% behind. (Read: Indonesia election too close to call)
The controvery also emerged barely a week after a Nazi-themed cafe in Bandung, a city two hours outside Jakarta, that closed shop after sparking international outrage reopened. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com