Hundreds of thousands protest against Jakarta’s Christian governor


Hundreds of thousands of Indonesians took to the streets last Friday to protest Jakarta’s governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, an ethnic Chinese Christian.

Police estimated their number at about 150,000, many having come from towns and cities across the island of Java.

They chanted and carried banners demanding that Purnama be jailed.

He is being investigated over comments about his opponents’ use of the Koran during political campaigning.

He denies wrongdoing, but has apologised for the remarks.

On Thursday police handed a dossier on their investigation of Purnama’s comments to prosecutors, who are expected to take the case of alleged blasphemy to court in coming weeks.

Purnama is a long-time ally of President Joko Widodo. He is running for re-election as governor of Jakarta against two Muslim candidates.

On Friday police said they had detained eight people before dawn, thwarting a plot hatched to take advantage of a demonstration and lead an uprising against Widodo’s government.

The detentions followed weeks of tension, during which Widodo said “political actors” had fanned violence at a Nov. 4 protest.

The country’s police chief had warned that “certain groups” might try to occupy parliament during Friday’s rally.

Police spokesman Rikwanto said altogether 10 people were detained between 3 a.m. and 6 a.m.

Eight were being investigated under the conspiracy and treason provisions of the criminal code, and the other two for hate speech.

“They are being accused of subversion,” said Yusril Ihza Mahendra, a lawyer for two of the eight.

He said the group included Rachmawati Sukarnoputri, a politician and sister of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri. Their father was independent Indonesia’s first president.


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News category: Asia Pacific.