THE Muslim-majority Indonesian capital of Jakarta looks set to be the stage of yet another mass rally against incumbent Christian Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on Tuesday.
The rally comes amid the governor’s trial over allegations of blasphemy.
Jakarta Globe quoted Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yuwono as saying that an estimated 10,000 protesters will participate in the 212 rally organised by the Indonesian Muslim Forum (FUI). The protest is expected to take place in front of the national legislative complex on Jalan Gatot Subroto in Senayan.
Although he did not mention how many police officers will be deployed to maintain order during the protest, Argo said the police will have assistance from the Indonesian Military (TNI).
He also urged protesters to obey the law and to maintain order throughout the rally to avoid untoward incidences.
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“The point is that they want to meet leaders of the House [of Representatives]. It is a common thing to do. However, the most important thing is that they obey the rules. They must disperse at 6 p.m. and not vandalize public facilities,” Argo said, as quoted by the Jakarta Globe.
The organisers had informed police that the protest is scheduled to start at 7am.
Ahok, who is Jakarta’s first ethnic Chinese and Christian governor, is one of three candidates who ran in the controversy-riddled Jakarta gubernatorial race.
His competition comprised Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and Anies Baswedan, both of whom are Muslim.
During a campaign rally last year, Ahok stated that he was aware that some Muslims would not vote for him because they thought doing so would be against the Quran. As a Christian, Ahok became the target of hard-line Islamist conservatives who accused him of insulting Muslims.
The controversy led to hundreds of thousands of people taking to the streets of Jakarta in protest, and ultimately resulted in Ahok facing blasphemy charges for the comments.
The job of governor can be a springboard to the presidency and weeks of campaigning have been overshadowed by mudslinging, political intrigue and rising hardline Islamist sentiment, raising questions about the role of religion in politics.
Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population but is officially secular and home to minority Christian and Hindu communities, as well as hundreds of ethnic groups.
During polling last Wednesday, Purnama secured 42.57 percent of the votes, just ahead of former minister Baswedan in second place with 40.23 percent, based on a quick sample count of around 40 percent of the vote by private polling firm SMRC.
The official results of the polls is expected to be announced later this month.
If no official wins an outright majority, a runoff election is expected to be held on April 18.
Additional reporting by Reuters