People's Consultative Assembly chairman Zulkifli Hasan, right. (Antara Photo/Regina Safri)

Public, Religious Figures Denounce Rally Planned for Dec. 2

BY :FERIAWAN HIDAYAT & EKO PRASETYO

NOVEMBER 24, 2016

Jakarta. The organization calling itself the National Movement to Guard the Fatwas of the Indonesian Ulema Council, or GNPF-MUI, is planning to go ahead with its mass protest rally in Jakarta on Dec. 02, despite a ban by police and the country's top Muslim clerical body.

MUI deputy secretary general Sholahudin Al-Ayubi reiterated that the clerical body has no structural relationship with the GNPF-MUI and that it has strictly banned the use of any of its attributes and logos during the rally.

"Related to the planned protest rally on Dec. 2, which is organized by the GNPF-MUI, the MUI reaffirms that the GNPF-MUI is not part of the MUI leadership board," Sholahudin said in Jakarta on Wednesday (23/11).

The GNPF-MUI, which demands the immediate arrest of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, has been denounced by several prominent public figures.

Indonesia Democracy Defenders Team (TPDI) coordinator Petrus Selestinus said the so-called 212 rally – as the Dec. 2 protest has come to be known – is without any foundation.

"The GNPF-MUI's demands are baseless and irrational, because Articles 20,21 and 22 of the Criminal Code state clearly that the authority to arrest a suspect or defendant is only subject to consideration by investigators, state prosecutors and judges," Petrus said.

He said the GNPF-MUI should respect the ongoing legal process.

"Police investigators have been demonstrating their independence, neutrality and professionalism in Ahok's case, despite massive public pressure," Petrus said.

Democratic Party politician Ruhut Sitompul, who is a legal practitioner, concurred with Petrus by saying that the GNPF-MUI does not seem to understand the law.

"To the GNPF-MUI: Please study the law again. If you are then still demanding [Ahok's arrest], come here and let us debate [the matter]," said Ruhut, who is also campaign spokesman for Ahok and running mate Djarot Saiful Hidayat in the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election.

People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Speaker Zulkifli Hasan called on the public not to participate in rallies such as the one on Nov. 4, which turned violent.

"The MPR is the caretaker of the Constitution. So, the MPR will be in the frontline if anyone tries to interfere with our Constitution," Zulkifli said.

National Democratic Party (NasDem) chairman Surya Paloh also declared his commitment to fight against any party that tries to stage a coup against President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government.

"We should enforce the Constitution against anyone that does not like the government and tries to take it down. We will fight them," Surya said.

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