Anti-Ahok demonstrators rally in Jakarta, October 2016. (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

More Than 20,000 to Participate in '313' Anti-Ahok Rally on Friday: Police

BY :FAROUK ARNAZ

MARCH 29, 2017

Jakarta. More than 20,000 people from various Islamic groups are expected to participate in the so-called "313" rally on Friday (31/03), to demand the dismissal of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, police said on Wednesday.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the rally is planned in front of the State Palace and inside the National Monument (Monas) complex after a mass prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta. Under the 1998 Law on Freedom of Expression in Public Spaces, groups planning a demonstration should notify the police for security arrangements.

Police have been taking preventive measures ahead of the rally and are in touch with its coordinators to make sure it does not turn violent.

"We understand there are certain risks, like provocations or attempts to hijack the event for other goals. The most important thing is to allow the protesters to express their opinions," Boy told reporters at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.

The protesters will request President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to dismiss the governor who is standing trial on blasphemy charges.

Under Indonesia's regional autonomy laws, the government can suspend a governor, if he or she is tried for a crime that carries a minimum five-year prison term.

Ahok, if convicted, can face a maximum five-year imprisonment, therefore, the government has been refusing to discharge him.

The rally is initiated by the Guardians of the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwas, or GNPF-MUI, an organization that was behind two demonstrations, on Nov. 4 and Dec. 2, dubbed as the "411" and "212" rallies — both of which were staged to demand Ahok's arrest.

Several student groups have also confirmed their intention to participate in the protest, Boy said.

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