Trouble flares after Jakarta rally ends in agreement

100,000 strong-rally to demand governor be punished for speech seeming to insult Islam had appeared to end peacefully

Trouble flares after Jakarta rally ends in agreement

World Bulletin / News Desk

A mass protest to demand police investigate alleged blasphemy by the governor of Jakarta turned violent Friday hours after leaders appeared to meet agreement with Indonesia's vice president.

As the rally approached the 6 p.m. (1000GMT) cut-off time, some protesters -- angry that their representatives could not meet President Joko Widodo --  started to throw stones and bottles at police after representatives left their State Palace meeting.

Police responded with tear gas and water cannon after protesters chanting "war" and "revolution" broke through barricades in front of the palace.

Television images showed two police trucks burning, but by 8 p.m. news site had reported police as saying just one arrest had been made and the situation had been brought under control.

Trouble began when a protest leader presented the results of the meeting with Vice President Jusuf Kalla through a tannoy.

"President Jokowi is still not ready to accept us," he said.

"The vice president offered and ensured that we all give time to the police chief [investigate the case] for  two weeks," he added.

Kalla earlier told reporters that he had met protesters' representatives and the case would proceed according to the applicable law.

"The law will be enforced firmly and quickly in accordance with the rules" Metro TV reported him saying.

The representatives said they had accepted the result.

"Yes, the legal process will be carried out quickly," said cleric Bachtiar Nasir, one of the rally's organizers

Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is accused of publicly insulting Islam, however Ahok -- as he is more frequently known -- says 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.

During Friday's protest, only hijab wearing female protesters were employed, while around 500 police wore white skullcaps and recited Asmau Allah al-Husna (the 99 names of Allah) in fear of the demonstration turning violent.

Indonesian security forces had been placed on alert as around 100,000 white-clothed demonstrators -- many brandishing the flags of Islamic organizations -- flooded into the capital to push for criminal proceedings.

Fears had been raised after images of Syrian militant calling for Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama to be shot were uploaded to the Internet, and four helicopters could be seen flying low Thursday around the presidential palace -- one of several major protest sites -- in preparation for any violence.

Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2016, 19:21
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