World Bulletin / News Desk
Thousands of people have gathered at the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta for a huge rally demanding police investigate alleged blasphemy by the governor of Jakarta.
The demonstration, set to begin after Friday prayers, is expected to see at least 100,000 people take part.
On Thursday, hundreds of buses carrying demonstrators from around the country began arriving in the capital, with many gathering overnight at the mosque.
Many others congregated in the national monument area opposite the presidential palace. Dressed mostly in white, they brandished the flag of Islamic organizations and delivered speeches.
As the mass took place, police officers outside wearing white skullcaps recited Asmau Allah al-Husna (the 99 names of Allah) in an effort to reduce tensions.
Protesters are demanding police punish Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for a speech in which he allegedly publicly insulted Islam last September.
"Ahok -- of Chinese descent and Christian -- says, however, that he was calling for people not to be “deceived” by those using a Quranic verse, Al Maidah: Chapter 51, not that the verse itself was insulting.
On Wednesday, a member of Ahok's campaign team, Nusron Wahid, claimed none of Ahok's speech had defamed the Quran.
"What Ahok was trying to do was educate people to choose intelligently and not be easily duped by those who politicize religion," Wahid said in a written statement to Anadolu Agency.
"Ahok was focusing on anyone deceiving [using Al Maidah], not [saying that the] Al Maidah verse is a lie."
Last month, thousands of people gathered at Istiqlal Mosque and started to march through the city, pushing for criminal proceedings.
The Jakarta Post quoted the vice secretary general of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) as underlining that Indonesia is a country based on the rule of law.
"We want the state to show presence in this case, because the law has regulations on this [religious defamation]," said Ja'far Shodiq.
On Wednesday, an FPI spokesman said that police had been slow to investigate.
"The police have to quickly deal with the case," Munarman -- many Indonesians use only one name -- said by phone, adding that around 10 parties, including the FPI, had now reported Ahok to the police.
Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2016, 09:04