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Jakarta Post

Fewer protesters show up than expected

  • Indra Budiari

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, March 31, 2017   /   01:31 pm
Fewer protesters show up than expected A security officer walks near a water cannon parked at City Hall on Friday, prior to a rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. (Warta Kota/Mohamad Yusuf)

Despite previously claiming that 100,000 people would take part in  Friday's protest against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, fewer than 10,000 have showed up at Istiqlal Grand Mosque, Central Jakarta.

In a rally scheduled to start at 1 p.m., protesters in white attire started to gather at the mosque in the morning. However, participants number far below those in previous anti-Ahok rallies.

Helmy, 50, who came from Depok, West Java, said he thought there would be as many protesters as in previous rallies in Nov. 4 and Dec. 2, which were claimed to be two of the largest protests the country had ever seen.

"It is discouraging too see this, but the message is still clear, we want Ahok arrested as soon as possible," he told The Jakarta Post.

He was also upset that the police had arrested rally initiators from the Muslim People's Forum (FUI), including secretary-general Muhammad Al Khaththath, the day before the rally, saying he was worried there would be no coordination during the rally.

The FUI previously claimed that at least 100,000 people would take part in Friday’s protest to demand the government remove Ahok from his post. The police, however, expect the number to be far lower.

The police arrested Khaththath and four other people on Thursday night on treason and conspiracy charges.