The Jakarta Post
Thousands of Muslims gathered in Medan, North Sumatra, on Sunday to mark the anniversary of the 2016 anti-Ahok rally as they followed in the footsteps of their counterparts in Jakarta who held a similar rally in the capital.
The rally at Al-Jihad Mosque in Medan, which kicked off with an early morning prayer, ended at around 1 p.m. Participants gathered in and around the mosque despite the rain.
People attending the rally put on a number of performances, which included parading on horses and waving flags bearing the tawhid (oneness of God).
Horseback riding is commonly believed to be one of the teachings of the Sunnah from Prophet Muhammad, although some, including clerics from Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, have begun to cast doubt on the suggestion that Muslims should learn to ride horses.
Aidan Azwin Pangabean, the deputy chairman of North Sumatra chapter of the National Movement to Safeguard the Ulema Fatwa (GNPF), said the movement decided to hold a similar rally in Medan because not everyone had the opportunity to go to Jakarta.
In his speech, he responded to the fact that most of the attendees had held up two fingers as a symbol of their support for presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto and his running mate, Sandiaga Salahuddin Uno.
“If participants demand that the president should be changed, it’s their constitutional right. We can’t limit or prohibit their rights,” Aidan said.
Bobby, who attended the rally, said it was held to unite and strengthen all faiths. “Participants came from various sects. Everyone here is part of the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia.”
Medan Police had dispatched around 500 personnel to secure the rally, said police chief Sr. Comr. Dadang Hartanto.
Apart from Medan, similar rallies were also held in a number of regions across the province, such as Asahan, Langkat and Deli Serdang regencies as well as Binjai city. (kuk)