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Jakarta governor to face yet another rally from Muslim hardliners

Pressure mounts against Christian governor over blasphemy allegations

Jakarta governor to face yet another rally from Muslim hardliners

Muslim leaders use loud speakers to broadcast their message in Jakarta on Nov. 4. Tens of thousands of Muslim hardliners on that day demanded Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama be prosecuted for blasphemy. (Photo by AFP)

ucanews.com reporter, Jakarta
Indonesia

December 1, 2016

A large number of Muslim hardliners are expected to join a rally in Jakarta on Dec. 2 to again protest against the Christian governor of Jakarta who they accuse of blasphemy.

Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, counselor of the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa, said this third rally against Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, would be peaceful.

"The rally will be in the form of a mass prayer gathering," Shihab, who is also patron of the Islamic Defenders Front, told tempo.co.

Shihab said his movement to safeguard the Indonesian ulema council will not take responsibility for any other rallies besides the mass prayer gathering which is to be held at the National Monument Square in Central Jakarta.

"If there is a rally held outside the venue we have agreed the national police have the right to take preemptive measures," he said.

According to National Police spokesman Inspector General Boy Rafli Amar, around 10,000 workers under the Confederation of Indonesian Workers Unions will also on Dec. 2 hold an anti-Ahok rally in front of City Hall.

Police are deploying 22,000 security personal on the day.

Shihab met with National Police chief General Tito Karnavian and officials from major Islamic organizations including the Indonesian Ulema Council to discuss about the rally where it was agreed that the mass prayer gathering would be held at the National Monument Square from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

According to Karnavian, the square can accommodate around 700,000 people.

Karnavian also said that police would provide protesters with clean water, toilets, stages and loudspeakers.

Meanwhile, Boy Rafli Amar affirmed that the rally would not include speeches.

"So there will be sermons by ulemas, not orations. And this has been agreed," he told kompas.com.

The coming rally follows a large protest by around 150,000 hard-line Muslim groups on Nov. 4, which demanded Ahok's arrest for alleged blasphemy.

Chinese owned shops were also attacked and looted on the day of that rally. One person died and at least 100 were injured in violence associated with it, said media reports.

Some 10,000 Muslim hardliners participated in the first anti-Ahok rally on Oct. 10 in the Indonesian capital.

Blasphemy allegations against the governor, who is of Chinese descent, surfaced in early October, after a video of a Sept. 27 speech, in which he allegedly insulted the Quran, went viral on the internet.

The police named Ahok as a suspect in a blasphemy case on Nov. 16. The Attorney General's office announced on Nov. 30 that it approved the case. The charges mean that the governor could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.  

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