A mob of 150,000 Muslim protesters took to the streets on Friday in Jakarta, Indonesia, calling for the death penalty for the capital’s Christian governor.
Clashes following the protest resulted in one death and another twelve people injured, according to Indonesian police.
Islamist groups denounced Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for “insulting Islam,” after the governor suggested that a Qur’an verse allegedly prohibiting Muslims from voting for non-Muslim leaders is a lie. During the march, demonstrators carried signs demanding that the official be put to death for blasphemy.
“Our message is clear: if he is not declared a suspect today, we won’t stop until this happens,” organizers said. “We have already planned a three-day movement. We urge all Muslims across Indonesia to rise up in their own region.”
The route of the march was secured by some 20,000 police and military personnel for fears it erupts into violence. Police stopped a mob from entering the housing complex where Gov. Purnama lives in northern Jakarta by firing tear gas into the crowd.
As a Christian and an ethnic Chinese, Mr. Purnama has two strikes against him in the world’s most Muslim country and hardline Islamic groups have protested his rule ever since he was elected in 2014.
Friday’s rally was echoed by similar large demonstrations in multiple other cities, instigated by the radical Islam Defenders Front (FPI), a Muslim group that wishes to impose sharia law on Jakarta.
The larger Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) agreed that the governor’s statement constitutes blasphemy and should be investigated by law enforcement officials, yet claimed they were not involved in organizing the protest.
Following the protest, Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo canceled a visit to Australia, scheduled from Sunday to Tuesday. The Foreign Affairs Ministry said the trip will be rescheduled because “current development has required the president to stay in Indonesia.”
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