West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil. (B1 Photo/Danung Arifin)

An Indonesian Governor Confronts His Illuminati Accusers


JUNE 11, 2019

Jakarta. West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil is fighting back accusations that his design for the Al Safar mosque, located in a rest area on the Purbaleunyi Toll Road in West Java, reportedly features "Illuminati" signs, commonly linked to signs of the devil by local conspiracy theorists. 

The accusations started with a tweet from Islamic preacher Ustad Rahmat Baequni, which argued that the mosque's main praying area was shaped like a triangle and decorated with a round clock that resembles an Illuminati "all seeing eye" – a triangle with an eye in the middle.

"This is the entrance, see all these triangles. Almost all triangles. Even when you go inside, a triangle, an eye. So when we pray, who are we facing? God or this one-eyed triangle?" the man said in a video included in the tweet. 

Among local conspiracy theorists, the Illuminati's symbol of an eye inside a triangle is commonly linked to Dajjal, a one-eyed devil in Islamic mythology.

Illuminati is an elite, secret organization that controls the world order, conspiracy theorists claim.

The myth started with the Bavarian Illuminati, an Enlightenment-era secret society founded in 1776, which saw as its goals an end to superstition, religious influence over public life and abuse of state power. 

The church claimed then that the organization was the devil's way to influence people. 

After Rahmat's tweet went viral, Governor Ridwan, who has a degree in architecture from Bandung Institute of Technology and a master's degree in urban design from the University of California, Berkeley, posted a passionate defense of his mosque design on Instagram on May 31.

He said, "I do not need to be angered by these interpretations. The important thing [for me] is to show that the accusations that the Al Safar mosque incorporates Illuminati symbols are WRONG."

To further appease the doubting public, Ridwan even addressed the issue during a public discussion at Bale Asri Pusdai Jabar in Bandung on Monday. The event was streamed live on his Instagram account.

Accompanied by the head of the West Java branch of the Indonesian Ulema Council and his accuser Rahmat Baequni, the governor said he had never intended to build a mosque with symbols that contravene Islamic teachings. Any similarity was a coincidence.

Rahmat denied that his criticism was a personal attack on the West Java governor. He also said he had accepted the governor's explanation.

"I understood his position as an architect, very clearly," Rahmat said.

Unique Design

At the inauguration of the mosque two years ago, toll road operator Jasa Marga outlined the design of the mosque, which can accommodate up to 1,200 worshipers.

The toll operator said the mosque adopted the shape of a traditional Sundanese hat.

Ridwan himself said on Instagram: "I want to contribute to the progress of Islamic art and architecture. Islamic aesthetics are very strong in geometry. Every mosque design always tries a new, different geometry." 

In the discussion in Bandung, the governor said the Al Safar mosque was built using an irregular concept and a nature-integrated design.

The irregular concept used many triangular shapes inspired by multiple folds in Japanese origami.

"The triangles embrace all irregular shapes," Ridwan said as quoted by BBC Indonesia.

Ridwan pointed out that many other mosques in Indonesia also feature triangular symbols and circles, such as the Jakarta Great Mosque and the Al Ukhuwah mosque in Bandung. Even the Nabawi Mosque in Saudi Arabia makes liberal use of the patterns. 

"Why criticize [only] Al Safar? There are so many triangular and circular symbols around us. [When you enter the] Jakarta Grand Mosque, your are welcomed by triangles and circles. Are these Illuminati signs?" he said.  

The Al Safar mosque has been nominated for the Abdullatif Al Fozan Award 2019 for best architecture, competing with 26 other mosques in the world.

"This means our intention to advance Islamic architecture has been acknowledged by the world, not just locally," Ridwan said.

The Al Irsyad mosque in Kota Baru Parahyangan, also designed by the governor, has also been nominated for the same award.