Thousands rally in Jakarta over Governor’s alleged blasphemy

Jakarta, Nov 4 (IANS) Thousands of protesters waving flags marched through Jakarta on Friday, demanding the ouster of Indonesian capital city’s Governor, who has been accused of blasphemy against Muslims.

Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, was alleged to have insulted Muslims by criticising his opponents’ use of a Quranic verse in a stump speech, CNN Indonesia reported.

As many as 18,000 police and military personnel were deployed for Friday’s protest, and an inner ring of approximately 100 armed military guards are deployed outside the Governor’s residence.

The police have called on demonstrators to exercise their right to protest and freedom of expression in a peaceful manner.

Residents have been warned to avoid the protest route and avoid sharing “unclear… provocative and incorrect information” on social media, police chief Tito Karnavian said in a statement.

The rally originated at Istiqlal Mosque, CNN Indonesia noted.

Conservative Islamist opponents have said that Ahok, who is a Christian of Chinese descent, should not administer a Muslim-majority city.

When video of Ahok speaking out against the Quranic verse appeared online in October, there was widespread outrage from conservative, religious members.

–IANS

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