A long march of FPI people during a mass rally against Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in this file photo. (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Anti-Ahok Rally to Take Jakarta Streets on Friday


OCTOBER 30, 2016

Jakarta. A coalition of Muslim groups have planned to stage a rally involving thousands next week  in protest of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama who has been accused of blasphemy, police said on Saturday (29/10).

Jakarta Police deputy chief Brig. Gen. Suntana said police will deploy around 7,000 personnel to safeguard the Friday rally which was organized by several Muslim groups, including hard-line group Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI.

Police have predicted the rally will be larger than a previous one on Oct. 10 which saw more than 5,000 people.

“Police will implement special security procedures at the airport, bus stations and train stations on Nov. 4. Security will be increased in several spots that are prone to conflict and clash,” Suntana told reporters in Jakarta.

He called on protesters to act appropriately and peacefully during  the rally, particularly as the official campaign period for next year's gubernatorial election, in which Basuki is seeking a second term, has begun.

Said Aqil Siroj, chairman of the country's largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama, suspected the rally would be infiltrated by other interest groups, separate to blasphemy concerns or other city election issues.

“I am afraid the target of the rally is not the election, but something much larger that that. Something like in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan,” Said said, referencing social unrest in the Middle East.

Nahdlatul Ulama members have been prohibited from wearing or displaying the organization's logo or merchandise during the rally, he said.

During the protest on Oct. 10, thousands of protesters led by the FPI marched through Jakarta, calling for the arrest of Basuki after he allegedly insulted Islam. The protest avoided the violence many had feared, but did cause massive traffic jams and damage to public parks.