Indonesian Islamists Demand Removal of Christian Governor

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As many as 200,000 Islamists marched on the presidential palace in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on November 4, demanding the resignation of Jakarta’s Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who goes by his nickname Ahok.

Later, groups of protestors attacked police officers at the palace shrieking “kill Ahok” and “kill Ahok for insulting Islam.”

One person was killed and at least 160 Islamist protestors and 79 officers were injured in the clashes, as reported by CNN. Police detained and questioned 10 people, they said in a statement on November 5.

Ahok is the first non-Muslim governor of Jakarta in 50 years and is also ethnically Chinese, a minority which is subject to discrimination in Indonesia. Ahok was accused of blasphemy by Islamists after a video was circulated online in which he said a verse in the Quran which could be interpreted to prohibit Muslims from voting for non-Muslims does not in fact prohibit them from so doing.

He has since apologized for the comments.

The Islam Defenders Front (FPI), which organized the demonstration, filed a police report against Ahok alleging blasphemy.

Following the unrest, Indonesian President Joko Widodo (known as Jokowi) cancelled his planned trip to Australia. He also announced the state would pursue legal options against Ahok. Protestors accused him of trying to protect Ahok, who is a key ally of Jokowi and from whom he took over as governor of Jakarta in 2014. At that time there were protests about a non-Muslim governing the city.

Those backing Ahok for the February 2017 election, in which he is running for re-election as governor of Jakarta on an anti-corruption platform have pledged they will continue to support him.

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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