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World News \ Asia

Muslim protest march against Jakarta's Christian governor ‎

Hard-line Muslims protesting against Jakarta's Christian governor in Jakarta, Indonesia, 31 March 2017.  - EPA

Hard-line Muslims protesting against Jakarta's Christian governor in Jakarta, Indonesia, 31 March 2017. - EPA

31/03/2017 15:36

Thousands of hard-line Muslims marched in Indonesia’s capital on Friday, calling for the jailing of the ‎city's minority Christian governor.  Following Friday prayers, the protesters marched from Istiqlal ‎Mosque in central Jakarta to the nearby presidential palace, which was under heavy police guard.   ‎Protests against Gov. Basuki ``Ahok'' Tjahaja Purnama have snowballed since September when he was ‎accused of blaspheming the Quran and subsequently charged. His trial is still underway.‎
The turnout for Friday's protest was small compared with the hundreds of thousands who answered the ‎call of hard-line Islamic groups to flood central Jakarta for demonstrations in November, December and ‎February.  Jakarta police's director of traffic Ermayudi Sumarsono estimated the crowd at 13,000 to ‎‎15,000. Police estimates are often conservative. Earlier Friday, police said they had arrested ‎Muhammad Al Khaththath, the leader of the Muslim Peoples Forum umbrella group, and other four ‎other activists for suspected treason.  Their followers said they were not deterred by the arrests. ‎
The blasphemy case, slurs against Ahok's Chinese ethnicity and the ease with which hard-liners ‎attracted huge numbers of people to protest have undermined Indonesia's reputation for practicing a ‎moderate form of Islam and shaken the secular government as well as mainstream Muslim groups.  ‎Blasphemy is a criminal offense in Indonesia, punishable by up to five years in prison. ‎
Ahok will compete in a runoff election for governor next week against a former cabinet minister backed ‎by conservative Muslim clerics.  He was popular with Jakarta's middle class because of his drive to ‎eliminate corruption and his efforts to make the overflowing polluted city more livable. But demolitions ‎of some of the slum neighborhoods that are home to millions and ill-considered outspokenness proved ‎to be his Achilles' heel.   Opponents seized their moment last year when a video surfaced of Ahok ‎telling voters they were being deceived if they believed a specific verse in the Quran prohibited ‎Muslims from electing a non-Muslim as leader.  (Source: AP)‎

 

31/03/2017 15:36