Muslim Groups Plan Another Massive Rally in Capital Jakarta

Thousands of Muslims descend on Jakarta on Dec. 2 to attend the 'Defend Islam' rally. (Antara Photo/M. Agung Rajasa)

By : Alin Almanar | on 1:16 PM February 05, 2017
Category : News

Jakarta. Muslim groups are planning another massive street rally in the heart of Jakarta on Feb. 11 — just four days before the capital's residents go to the poll to elect a new governor — to demand a Muslim leader for the city.

This will be the fourth major demonstration by Muslims on the streets of Jakarta in the last five months.

Demonstrators are expected to pour into the National Monument complex — also where crowds gathered in the most recent demonstration on Dec. 2 — in early Saturday morning before they march along Jalan Thamrin to the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle.

Muhammad Al Khaththath, the secretary general of Muslims Forum (FUI), which will organize the Feb. 11 rally, said, "There will be speeches, sermons, Koran recitals and prayers. It will finish off with the afternoon prayer," he said in Jakarta on Friday.

Muhammad did not give an estimation of the number of crowds expected at the rally, saying simply that "the 212 groups will be there," the number referring to the Dec. 2 "Defend Islam" rally that saw hundreds of thousands of Muslims blanketing the heart of the capital.

Two previous rallies were also held on Oct. 14 and Nov. 4, the latter of which turned violent.

Many Muslim groups, led by the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), have been demanding that Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama step down as a candidate in the Jakarta gubernatorial election.

An official statement issued by the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) in October accuses the Christian of Chinese descent of blasphemy for his comments about a Koranic verse.

Basuki, who has been going to court to attend his blasphemy trial while campaigning, is seeking a second term as Jakarta governor in the Feb. 15 election.

The Feb. 11 demonstration will remind Muslims not to elect a non-Muslim leader, Al Khaththath said.

Quoting Al Maidah: 51, the Koranic verse that Basuki commented about, and another MUI edict on electing Muslim leaders from 2009, he said, "We are fighting for what is taught in the Koran."

The Muslim groups picked Feb. 11 as an auspicious date for the rally as it coincides with the commemoration of the Iranian Revolution, when Iranians led by Ayatollah Khomeini overthrew the last US-backed Shah of Iran.

Egypt's Tahrir Square rally in 2011, which eventually toppled the country's long-time president Hosni Mubarak, also reached its peak on Feb. 11.

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