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INDONESIA POLL: Nazi-inspired rocker seen hurting bid of Indonesian presidential bet

Publication Date : 26-06-2014


The presidential campaign team of the Gerindra Party’s Prabowo Subianto of Indonesia had to face the music on Wednesday following the circulation of a tribute video that many said promoted Nazism.

The campaign video has caused an international uproar with major news outlets in the West, including Germany’s news magazine Der Spiegel, weighing in on how far the creator of the video, rock musician Ahmad Dhani, had promoted Nazism.

In the video, which was a rip-off of the British band Queen’s classic hit “We Will Rock You”, Dhani dons black paramilitary attire and holds a golden Garuda — Indonesia’s national emblem — which looks like the German imperial eagle.

Der Spiegel pointed out that Dhani’s military costume was similar to the uniform worn by SS commander Heinrich Himmler. “Dhani wears the same emblem on the lapel and the same red breast-pocket lining,” it said on Tuesday, comparing photos of the two in a photo gallery.

Queen guitarist Brian May joined the fray by sending a tweet saying that the song had won no approval from him. “Of course this is completely unauthorised by us.”

When the video was first uploaded on Prabowo’s official Facebook page, the presidential candidate thanked Dhani and the other performers in the video, namely Indonesian Idol winner Nowela Elizabeth Auparay and fellow Idol contestant Husein Alatas. Dhani is a judge on the Idol TV show.

Dhani, who is partly Jewish, however, said he had been misunderstood.

“If I wear a Star of David then regular folks will call me a Zionist and when I wear a Nazi uniform then these same folks will call me a fascist... Once a simpleton, always a simpleton,” Dhani said in a tweet sent to his 1.35 million followers on Twitter.

Fellow musicians have responded to the video with outrage.

Indonesian-born, Paris-based singer-songwriter Anggun criticised Dhani for being insensitive, saying in a tweet that she was “shocked, disappointed, ashamed and sad” at seeing Dhani sporting Himmler’s attire.

“Wearing the uniform of Hitler’s confidant reminds people about the brutality [of the Nazi regime] and brings back pain to the millions of victims’ families,” she said. “I pray for Indonesia that it won’t fall into fascism!”

Musician Glenn Fredly said Dhani had made a fool of himself and the whole country.

“If you want to use the presidential election to get attention, well you have just succeeded! Succeeded in humiliating yourself,” he said.

An Indonesian living in Frankfurt, Prihantini, said she was ashamed about what Dhani had done.

“As an Indonesian living in Germany, it pains me to see how some people choose to ignore certain things in the world because I sincerely believe that it’s not simply ignorance. They are too educated to be stupid,” she told The Jakarta Post. “Mass killing is not cool, whoever the perpetrators and the victims were.”

When asked about the video, a spokesman for Prabowo’s campaign team, Tantowi Yahya, said that the team had nothing to do with the video.

“That’s purely his [Dhani’s] creativity. An artist must think outside of the box; if you don’t do that then you are [just like] regular folk,” Tantowi said.

Political observer Ray Rangkuti called for the removal of the video from YouTube, saying that “it could lead other nations to think that people in the country had endorsed crimes against humanity”.

As of Wednesday evening, two YouTube links posted by Dhani from his Twitter account had been removed, though copies of the video had already gone viral.


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