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from THE JAKARTA POST -- TUESDAY, MARCH 23, 2010 The upcoming national conference of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), the country's largest mass Muslim organization, is likely to see a tight race between intellectuals and politicians with seven figures set to contend in the election of a new NU chairman to replace outgoing leader Hasyim Muzadi.
In the past few months, the candidates have been busy making field trips to regions, mainly NU's strongholds in East Java, to campaign for their visions and programs in their bid to solicit support from the organization's functionaries. Several candidates or their campaign teams have created Facebook accounts for the same purpose.
The candidates generally share the vision that they want to regain the religious organization's fame when it was under the leadership of the late former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid.
They equally pledged to make the NU a strong mass Muslim organization to help the state counter extremism, radicalism and terrorism, while committing to staying out of politics. They also vowed to turn the religious organization into a "comfortable great …