Govt calls for end of flag burning protests
The Jakarta Post
A planned rally to protest the recent burning of a black flag bearing an Islamic creed is a waste of energy and not relevant, a senior government official has said.
The statement follows the announcement of a plan by the National Movement to Safeguard Ulema (GNPF-U) and 212 Alumni groups to take to the streets on Friday for a “Aksi Bela Tauhid 211” march from Istiqlal Mosque to the State Palace in Jakarta.
“This kind of rally is just a waste of energy and is no longer relevant because religious leaders, ulema and the leaders of Muslim organizations have called for peace and for people to let the police carry out their investigation,” Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Wiranto said at his office in Jakarta on Thursday.
However, Wiranto emphasized that the government did not prohibit people from staging a protest, as long as they complied with the law and did not disturb public order.
Through the rally, the groups plan to demand the government disband Nahdlatul Ulama’s (NU) the Guardian Troops of Ansor (Banser) youth wing.
Banser members were allegedly involved in a flag-burning incident during National Santri Day celebrations in Garut, West Java, on Oct. 22.
The groups believe the actions of the Banser members — who reportedly burned the flag because they thought it was the flag of outlawed Muslim group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) — was unacceptable and an insult to all Muslims.
West Java Police have named three suspects from the incident. Two are the alleged flag burners, while the third is the one who allegedly raised the flag at the event.
Under Article 174 of the Criminal Code, the three suspects face possible sentences of three weeks in jail for disrupting a public gathering.
With the suspects now under police investigation, National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Ari Dono Sukamto questioned the intention behind the rally.
“[We] are conducting the legal process [for the case]. If [the groups] still want to stage a protest, that will raise questions,” Ari said.
“We suggest that those who are from outside Jakarta not come to the city [for the protest]. We also hope that the protesters in Jakarta maintain public order,” Ari said.
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