UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News Catholic Dioceses in Asia
UCA News

Indonesia

Islamists flex muscles in huge Jakarta rally

About 100,000 mark protests that ousted former Christian governor, call goes out to vote against Widodo

Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Islamists flex muscles in huge Jakarta rally

Thousands of Islamists gather at the National Monument in Jakarta on Dec. 2 for a rally to mark the second anniversary of a protest that led to the jailing of the city's former Christian governor. (Photo by Katharina R. Lestari, ucanews.com)

Share this article :
Tens of thousands of Islamists gathered in Indonesia's capital on Dec. 2 to mark the second anniversary of a mass protest that led to the downfall of Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

To many observers the gathering was a show of force by conservative groups flexing their muscles ahead of upcoming presidential and legislative polls.

It also underscored how some politicians are increasingly aligning with more extremist and conservative elements and using religion to further their electoral purposes.

An estimated 100,00 Muslims, mostly hardliners dressed in white and carrying Islamic flags converged on the national monument in Jakarta for the so-called "212 Reunion" rally.

The "212" refers to Dec. 2, 2016 when thousands of Muslim hardliners first gathered for a series of rallies to demand that Purnama, known as Ahok, be arrested for blasphemy.

Ahok, an ethnic Chinese Protestant, was later sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of insulting the Quran.

Organizers of this year's rally issued a call for Muslims to shun political parties and those who supported Purnama in the 2017 governor election.

Many of these supporters are also supporting the country's president, Joko Widodo, who is standing for a second term in an election in April next year and who has long had strained ties with hard-line groups.

"It is forbidden for us to vote for presidential and legislative candidates backed by parties supporting a blasphemer," Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, the self-exiled leader of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front told the crowd in a phone message from Saudi Arabia.

Shihab fled Indonesia in May last year after being accused of sharing pornographic material in WhatsApp chats with a female activist.

"We must fight together for a change in the 2019 presidential and legislative elections," said Shihab.

Widodo's main rival Prabowo Subianto, an ultranationalist former general who has forged closer ties with conservative groups attended the event.

He gave a short speech thanking organizers for inviting him, but refrained from electioneering, which has been banned in and around the National Monument by the country's election commission.

Jakarta's present governor Anies Baswedan, who defeated Purnama in the 2017 election, also attended the gathering.

Sutarjad, one of the thousands at the rally said he has longed for a president who "really defends Islam,"

"We've been ignored so far. I hope we can reach one goal which is vote in a better president," he told ucanews.com.

Support UCA News...

As 2020 unfolds, we are asking readers like you to help us keep Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News) free so it can be accessed from anywhere in the world at no cost.

That has been our policy for years and was made possible by donations from European Catholic funding agencies. However, like the Church in Europe, these agencies are in decline and the immediate and urgent claims on their funds for humanitarian emergencies in Africa and parts of Asia mean there is much less to distribute than there was even a decade ago.

Forty years ago, when UCA News was founded, Asia was a very different place - many poor and underdeveloped countries with large populations to feed, political instability and economies too often poised on the edge of collapse. Today, Asia is the economic engine room of the world and funding agencies quite rightly look to UCA News to do more to fund itself.

UCA News has a unique product developed from a view of the world and the Church through informed Catholic eyes. Our journalistic standards are as high as any in the quality press; our focus is particularly on a fast-growing part of the world - Asia - where, in some countries the Church is growing faster than pastoral resources can respond to - South Korea, Vietnam and India to name just three.

And UCA News has the advantage of having in its ranks local reporters that cover 22 countries and experienced native English-speaking editors to render stories that are informative, informed and perceptive.

We report from the ground where other news services simply can't or won't go. We report the stories of local people and their experiences in a way that Western news outlets simply don't have the resources to reach. And we report on the emerging life of new Churches in old lands where being a Catholic can at times be very dangerous.

With dwindling support from funding partners in Europe and the USA, we need to call on the support of those who benefit from our work.

Click here to find out the ways you can support UCA News. You can make a difference for as little as US$5...
UCAN Donate
UCA Newsletter
YOUR DAILY
NEWSLETTER
Thank you. You are now signed up to our Daily Full Bulletin newsletter

Also Read

UCA News Podcast
UCAN Ad
 
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution
Mission in Asia | Make a Contribution