- Title: Thousands of Indonesian protesters rally against Jakarta governor
- Date: 2nd December 2016
- Summary: VARIOUS OF PROTESTERS SINGING
- Embargoed: 17th December 2016 02:52
- Keywords: Indonesia protest Jakarta governor Muslim Basuki Tjahaja Purnama blasphemy
- Location: JAKARTA, INDONESIA
- City: JAKARTA, INDONESIA
- Country: Indonesia
- Reuters ID: LVA0025B6WYF9
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Thousands of white-clad Muslims streamed down in downtown Jakarta on Friday (December 2) for a rally expected to draw more than 100,000 Indonesians demanding the arrest of the capital's governor, a Christian accused of insulting the Koran.
Protesters holding up placards and banners chanted slogans calling for police to arrest Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama of insulting the Koran.
Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, is running for re-election in February against two Muslim candidates. The governor, who has gained his popularity for pushing through tough reforms to clean up the teeming city, has slipped into second place in the race, opinion polls showed this week.
"Arrest Ahok. What are they waiting for since there are evidence showing he is guilty? What is the reason for not arresting him?" said protester Abu Mujahit, a protester from West Sumatra province.
"The authority had given a lot of excuses on why they don't arrest him, like saying 'he has been cooperative', but this is an issue that angers many Muslims and Indonesians and this is a key to maintain our diversity in this country, hence the excuses (of not arresting him) don't make sense."
Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, is being investigated over comments he made about his opponents' use of the Koran in political campaigning. He denies wrongdoing but has apologized for the remarks.
Police on Thursday (December 1) handed over their investigation dossier to prosecutors, who are expected to take the case of alleged blasphemy to court in coming weeks.
"We insist that Ahok should be arrested according to the law. As for the others (other leaders), like Jokowi, they need to be firm. How come a leader not being determined? That's what I want to say. If Jokowi is not firm (on this issue), next time it will be his turn," said another protester Haji Tubagus, referring to Indonesian President Joko Widodo with his nickname commonly known by the country.
Widodo has seen as a key backer for Purnama, who was his deputy when Widodo was Jakarta governor. Simmering religious and ethnic tension had prompted Widodo to rally top military, political, and religious figures in a sign of unity amid fears of attempts to undermine the stability of his government.
National news agency Antara said 22,000 police personnel would be deployed to avoid a repeat of the violence that flared at the end of a protest led by hardline Islamists last month when more than 100 people were injured in clashes with police.
Indonesia has the world's biggest Muslim population but recognizes six religions and is home to dozens of ethnic groups, some of which follow traditional beliefs.
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