An aerial view shows members of hardline Muslim groups attending a protest against Jakarta's incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian running in the upcoming election, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov. 4. (Reuters Photo/Beawiharta)

Calls Mount for Muslims to Avoid Another Anti-Ahok Protest


NOVEMBER 17, 2016

Jakarta. Calls are mounting for Indonesia's Muslims to avoid another massive protest against Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama after he was named a suspect in a religious blasphemy case which has seen Muslim hardliners grow restive in the last month.

Police finally charged the governor on Wednesday (16/11) under the religious blasphemy criminal code over recent remarks he made in a speech which allegedly insulted the Koran.

The police's decision to name Ahok a suspect in the case came amid reports that more massive anti-Ahok protests by Muslim hardliners are planned for next week.

Leaders of Indonesia's biggest Islamic organization, the Nahdlatul Ulama, called on their followers to remain calm on Thursday, two weeks after thousands of Muslims took to the streets of Jakarta in protest of the Christian and ethnic-Chinese governor.

"We call on all our followers not to stage more demonstrations against Ahok," NU chairman Said Aqil Siroj said. "We also call on other Muslim leaders to keep the peace."

Said's comment came a day after the country's second-largest Muslim group Muhammadiyah made a similar call, saying "there are no strong grounds for staging another protest, for now."

The police's move on Wednesday would likely see Ahok's case brought to court, as demanded by Muslims in a massive anti-Ahok protest on Nov. 4 that eventually turned violent.

A peaceful rally aimed at showing Indonesia's religious and ethnic diversity is planned for Saturday, taking the familiar theme of Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).

The rally is being set up to ease tension on the streets and amplifying messages of tolerance. Many are worried that the nation is being divided — as shown in many heated arguments on social media among other places — by the blasphemy allegation against the Jakarta governor.