The Jakarta Post
A large mass gathering in downtown Jakarta concluded in a peaceful manner on Friday afternoon as most participants fulfilled their promise to disperse immediately after the end of Friday prayers.
More than 500,000 people flocked to the National Monument (Monas) square in Central Jakarta starting Friday morning to participate in a demonstration to push for the immediate arrest of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama over alleged blasphemy.
The police gave them approval to hold the gathering, the main event of which was a mass Friday prayer, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Shortly after the Friday prayer, rally participants started to leave Monas through three entrance gates, with hundreds of police and military personnel watching to maintain order.
Comr. Sunardi, an on-duty officer from the Jakarta Police, applauded participants’ willingness to maintain order, claiming that his agency recorded no untoward incidents having taken place.
"We have been prepared for anything, but we’re surely glad if this rally could be ended peacefully like this," he told The Jakarta Post.
While most participants have left Monas, hundreds of others were still seen gathering at a rally stage in the square, listening to political speeches delivered by a number of apparent clerics.
"Thank you for your presence today, but I ask you when you get home you keep in mind that not a single non-Muslim could be a leader in this country," said one of the speakers.
"Not a district leader, not a governor or even president should be our leader. Pick a Muslim if you have to vote," he said before leaving the stage with his entourage. (hwa)
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