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19 October 2020 (closed)
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Jakarta's Police Department said chances are small that there will be another anti-Ahok demonstration in Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta. Over the past week media reported that protesters want to stage another demonstration on 25 November 2016 to demand the arrest of incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki Cahaya Purnama (known as Ahok). Protesters accuse Ahok (a Christian of Chinese descent) of blasphemy after seeing a manipulated video that showed Ahok (mis)quoting Quranic verses during a speech in Kepulauan Seribu, off the coast of Jakarta, in early October.
Mochamad Iriawan, Jakarta Police Chief General Mochamad Iriawan, said another demonstration is not needed as the legal process is already ongoing. A semi-public hearing will be staged on Tuesday morning (15/11) in the National Police's Rupatama Room in South Jakarta at 9:00 am local Jakarta time. Although it is not compulsory for Ahok to be present at this hearing, he is expected to show up to defend himself. Goal of this hearing is to determine whether Ahok's statement (during a speech in Kepulauan Seribu in early October) constitutes a criminal offense. Indonesian media are allowed to broadcast the opening of the hearing.
Based on the manipulated video that surfaced on social media, 11 people filed blasphemy allegations against Ahok. In this manipulated video the Jakarta Governor advises his audience "not to be deceived by Surat Al-Ma'idah, verse 51". This text says Muslims cannot have a non-Muslim leader. This manipulated scene was a sensitive one for Muslims, particularly hardliners. However, the full version of Ahok's speech goes like this: "don't be deceived by people who use Surat Al-Ma'idah, verse 51 [for political gain].
The full speech is available on the Internet and should clear Ahok from any blasphemy allegations. It is assumed that authorities go ahead with the legal case in order to safeguard public order. If they would immediately reject an investigation, then it could cause even more uproar.
On Friday (04/11) more than 100,000 demonstrators gathered in Central Jakarta to express their anger and demand the arrest of Ahok. Although this demonstration went peacefully during daylight, it resulted in riots in the evening. Prior to this demonstration authorities had already announced to investigate the case and thus the demonstration was actually unnecessary. Therefore it is assumed that the demonstration actually had political motives. Campaigning for the Jakarta gubernatorial election started in late-October. In this race incumbent Governor Ahok (together with his running mate incumbent Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat) compete with the pairs (1) Anies Baswedan and Sandiaga Uno, and (2) Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono (son of former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono) and Sylviana Murni. On 15 February 2017 local people will vote for Jakarta's next governor.
By using a sensitive issue such as religion, it is relatively easy for political stakeholders in Indonesia to mobilize (through provocation) a big crowd of mostly uneducated (lower class) protesters, especially as it involves a Christian (ethnic Chinese) Governor. However, among Jakarta's middle class - and these are the people that will not quickly go on the streets to demonstrate - Ahok enjoys much support for his decisive style of governance.