The last anti-Ahok rally on Nov. 4 had turned violent. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

Anti-Ahok Rally Turns Violent as Protesters Start to Disperse

BY :ALIN ALMANAR & EKO PRASETYO

NOVEMBER 04, 2016

Jakarta. The largely peaceful rally by Muslim groups against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama over blasphemy allegations turned violent late on Friday (04/11), resulting in police firing tear gas into thousands of rioting protesters.

Demonstrators jostled with each other and fled into nearby buildings adjacent to the State Palace in Central Jakarta, where masses of people were concentrated, amid a strong security presence.

The riot started when protesters pushed against police barricades and threw various objects at officers, who subsequently responded by firing tear gas. Police said at least two officers were injured.

At least three cars were set alight in the chaos, while several members of the media were targeted by demonstrators earlier, with some shouting at them that they are "provocateurs."

Police moved against the protesters after they insisted on occupying roads leading to the State Palace, demanding to wait for the arrival of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The demonstrators, led by the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), demanded that Jokowi's administration refrain from impeding the police investigation into the blasphemy allegations.

However, several reports also stated that groups of protesters, which have dispersed and left the Central Jakarta area, started to spread out in parts of North Jakarta.

Some of them were reportedly headed to Ahok's residence in Sunter, while others were sweeping residential areas and popular hangouts nearby.

The condition in front of the State Palace and Constitutional Court has calmed, while large amounts of trash, bottles and various pieces of debris are scattered around the area.

The violence erupted despite repeated assurances by organizers and political figures that the rally would be peaceful.

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