Army soldiers guard the Jakarta Cathedral. (Antara Photo/Yudhi Mahatma)

Imam of Jakarta’s Largest Mosque Advises Restraint and Caution for Friday's Anti-Ahok Rally

BY :BERNADUS WIJAYAKA & EKO PRASETYO

NOVEMBER 02, 2016

Jakarta. The top imam of the Istiqlal Mosque — Jakarta's largest mosque, Nasarudin Umar, has advised Muslims who want to join the anti-Ahok rally on Friday (04/11) to exercise restraint and avoid creating chaos and anarchy, while also calling on the police not to be heavy-handed when handling the demonstrators.

Nasarudin claimed radical groups could take advantage of the protest to spread hate and chaos.

"It's a bit hard to read the situation, as both moderate Muslims and hardliners will join the rally. Even some of the Muslim liberals said they will also take part. Law enforcers should tread very carefully," Nasarudin said.

The Imam said several top ulemas and Islamic leaders will also join the rally, as well as several lawmakers from the House of Representatives.

These public figures, according to the Imam, should campaign for peace during the rally and not be drawn to provocations by hardline groups who want to break up the nation.

"Do not give in to their provocations. If you remain calm, then [the protest] will be calm," the Syarif Hidayatullah Islamic University lecturer said.

Nasarudin also called on Muslims joining the protest to follow rules and regulations.

"Don't let anarchy take over, don't destroy public facilities, don't try to create disunity. I have also asked the police to exercise restraint and caution. These protesters are not criminals or provocateurs," he said.

The protest is scheduled to start after the Friday prayer with a march from Istiqlal to the State Palace. As the leader of the mosque, Nasarudin strictly forbids anyone from turning Istiqlal into a political stage.

"Istiqlal should be a spiritual oasis. You can't use the place to hound the government, or anyone else," he said.

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