A PROTEST by hardline Muslims in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta has resulted in violence, with police confirming one person has died and seven injured during clashes between protesters and police.
An elderly man died during the protest, possibly from the effects of tear gas, said Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono on Friday. Four other civilians and three police officers sustained injuries.
An estimated 50,000 people marched upon the presidential palace in protest of the nation’s first ethnic Chinese minister and minority Christian, Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who has been accused of blasphemy by reportedly joking about a passage in the Quran.
Headbands with the words “Arrest Ahok” and banners with slogans such as “Ahok is an enemy of Islam” were seen during the march. Clashes broke out between police and hard-core protesters who refused to disperse following nightfall.
Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo called for protesters not to “create havoc” prior to the rally, and left the palace just before the rally began, reports the Jakarta Post. Jokowi blamed political meddling for the violence that took place on Friday.
According to Tempo.co, Jokowi criticized demonstrators who did not disperse at the appointed time, and said he regretted the violence. He was quoted saying: “Political actors are taking advantage of the situation.”
Additional reporting by Associated Press