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Jakarta Post

Muslim leaders reject violent rally

  • Nurul Fitri Ramadhani and Haeril Halim

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, November 1, 2016   /  07:16 am
Muslim leaders reject violent rally Thousands of members of hard-line Muslim groups gather for a protest march after Friday prayers on Oct. 14 at Istiqlal Mosque in Gambir, Central Jakarta, demanding the police to continue the legal process against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is accused of blasphemy. (JP/Callistasia Anggun Wijaya)

The country’s two largest Muslim organizations have stated that they do not support a rally slated for Friday, which is expected to draw hundreds of Islamic hard-liners.

The announcement was seen as a bid to ease tension after circulating information suggesting the rally could turn violent has put Jakartans on alert for the past few days.

Leaders of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and Muhammadiyah said separately that they would not encourage their members to take part in the rally, let alone any provocative actions at the event. Thousands of extremists including from outside Jakarta are expected to stage a protest in front of the State Palace to demand the prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy when citing a Quranic verse a month ago.

“[No member] is allowed [to join the rally]. I prohibit them,” NU chairman Said Aqil Siradj said on Monday, adding that the use of NU symbols at the rally was also prohibited.

According to him, the rally would violate religious principles if it caused damage and national instability.

The country’s second-largest Muslim organization, Muhammadiyah, which has around 40 million followers nationwide, meanwhile, said it would not prohibit its members from participating in the rally, but emphasized that it would never intentionally mobilize them for such purposes.

“Joining a rally is every individual’s right, but those who are interested [in participating] should not bring any organizational attributes,” Muhammadiyah secretary-general Abdul Mu’ti told The Jakarta Post. He added that Muhammadiyah “has its own way to voice its aspirations”.

In Bandung, West Java, Rachmat Syafe’i, the chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) West Java chapter, called on all MUI members not to join or support the rally.

“Our position is in line with the stance of the MUI central board, which is that we urge law enforcement bodies to take firm action toward all people who are proven to have insulted the Quran. But we are against the rally and prohibit the use of our attributes at it,” he said in Bandung.

The rally will be the second major demonstration against Ahok after a previous one on Oct. 24. Islamic hard-liners have claimed that they would not stop until the National Police charged Ahok for his alleged insult of Islam.

Executives of the Gerindra Party Fadli Zon and Islam-based Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) Fahri Hamzah, who are supporting the Anies Baswedan-Sandiaga Uno ticket in the upcoming Jakarta gubernatorial race, have said they would join the rally.

For some, the move was seen as an affirmation that the demonstration had a hidden political agenda to undermine the Ahok-Djarot Saiful Hidayat ticket.

House of Representatives Speaker Ade Komarudin said on Monday that “all party elites should refrain from taking part in the rally”.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo took preemptive measures in anticipation of possible violence at the event by inviting leaders from various Islamic organizations to discuss the Nov. 4 rally at the State Palace on Tuesday.

“I will encourage religious and political leaders to help calm down the situation,” Jokowi said after a two-hour closed-door meeting with Gerindra Party chairman and his former presidential election rival, Prabowo Subianto, at the latter’s residence in Hambalang, West Java, on Monday.

Mukti confirmed that Muhammadiyah had been invited by Jokowi to the State Palace.

In Riau, meanwhile, Riau Police chief Brig. Gen. Zulkarnain Adinegara said as many as 200 Mobile Brigade (Brimob) personnel in the province would be deployed to Jakarta to reinforce security during the rally.

Arya Dipa and Rizal Harahap contributed to this story from Bandung and Pekanbaru.

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