Haedar Nashir, chairman of Muhammadiyah, the second largest Islamic organization in Indonesia. (Antara Photo/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Muslims Asked to Avoid Mass Protest After Ahok Named Blasphemy Suspect

BY :ALIN ALMANAR

NOVEMBER 16, 2016

Jakarta. Muslim leaders have called on their followers not to attend a planned mass protest rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama after police named him a suspect in a blasphemy case on Wednesday (16/11).

In a move that was welcomed by many in the Muslim community, a preliminary investigation concluded that recent remarks by Ahok about a Koranic verse constituted a criminal offense.

The decision comes amid reported plans by hardline Muslim groups to stage another mass demonstration against Ahok in the capital late next week, three weeks after a similar protest rally turned violent.

However, Wednesday's decision seems to have eased anger among members of the community, with leaders of Muhammadiyah, the country's second-largest Muslim group, calling on its members to "save their energy for now."

"Our struggle still has a long way to go," former Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said on Wednesday, calling on Muslims to focus on monitoring the police investigation against Ahok.

Police have now raised the status of the case against the governor, who is a Christian of Chinese ethnicity, from a preliminary investigation to a full investigation.

"As long as there are no indications of a deviation in the legal process, we call on our members to remain focused on the process," Muhammadiyah youth wing chairman Dahnil Anzar Simanjuntak said. "There are no strong grounds for staging another mass protest rally for now. The legal process is already proper and ongoing."

Ahok's case comes in the lead-up to next year's Jakarta gubernatorial race, in which he is seeking re-election. The incumbent's status as a suspect does not affect his candidacy.

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