Indonesian police quell mass protest by hardline Muslims

November 5, 2016 | By | Reply More

Indonesian police quelled a mass protest by tens of thousands of hardline Muslims on Friday, firing tear gas and water cannon into crowds demanding the resignation of the Christian governor of Jakarta, who they said had insulted the Koran.

indonesian policeA police spokesman said one person died and 12 were hurt.

Indonesia is the world’s most populous Muslim country, but most follow a moderate form of Islam and protests on such a large scale are rare.

Critics say the protest was whipped up by an extremist group that latched on to political tension ahead of February’s election for the governorship of Jakarta, the country’s capital, and was allowed to grow because the government failed to rein it in.

Police said the number of demonstrators in central Jakarta swelled to about 150,000 in the hours after Friday prayers as they congregated around the palace of President Joko Widodo.

By late afternoon the crowd grew restive – some threw rocks at the police, two vehicles were torched and a fire broke out near the city’s National Monument.

Indonesian police responded with tear gas and water cannon and, by late evening, most protesters had left.

However, hundreds said they would camp out overnight beside the parliament building, while in the north of the capital media reported a clash between police and a few dozen protesters and social media reports showed a convenience store being looted.

“We see that political actors were taking advantage of the situation,” President Widodo told reporters at an after-midnight news conference, referring to the violence, which he said took place after the demonstration should have dispersed.

Many protesters were clad in robes and Muslim caps as they called for the resignation of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahja Purnama. A Christian and the first ethnic Chinese politician to lead the sprawling city of 10 million, Purnama is standing for re-election, competing with two Muslims for the job.

Ethnic Chinese make up just over 1 percent of Indonesia’s 250 million people, and they typically do not enter politics.

Indonesian Chinese have faced persecution and violence in the past, especially during the political and social turmoil that gripped Jakarta when former strongman Suharto was toppled.

Press journalist for HRO media – Khizer Hayat reports.

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Category: International

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