More than three million people took to the streets at the iconic Monas park in Central Jakarta to hold a peaceful act by holding a Friday prayer in demand to detain Jakarta’s governor, Basuki Tjahja Purnomo, who is also known as Ahok, due to his involvement in an alleged case of religious defamation. Some even went further by saying that there were actually more than 7 million people that day.
An earlier video on YouTube showing Ahok, presenting his development programs to locals at Pulau Seribu. In the video, Ahok said that the election for the Governor’s position, where Ahok is also one of the nominee, would be held ahead of the schedule.
He said that members of the public do not have to worry even if he would not be elected next year that the program would not be running. He said, “It is possible that in your heart, you cannot choose me. Because you are being cheated by Al-Maidah (one of the surah in Al-Quran).”
In surah Al-Maidah, Muslims are not allowed to pick someone who is not from the same religion to be the leader, as the leader may not be able to guide the Muslims in Islam’s way.
Ahok is a Christian and as the election approached, the situation got heated up and he ended up saying things which are hurtful for Muslims.
Many of the protestors had already been there at the site since midnight to avoid traffic and there was no reported violence occurred during the protest on Friday.
In a picture after the act had finished, it showed that the trash had been gathered in plastic bags in order to help the garbage collector to clean the area.
President Joko Widodo, also known as Jokowi, and his Vice-President Jusuf Kalla also joined the prayer together with the people.
Jokowi said, “I want to recognise the people here for following the law, which allowed this (act) to go well.”
Earlier on 4 November, more than 2 million people gathered in Jakarta, demanding to meet the president, Jokowi Dodo, to talk about the case about Ahok as it had been more than a month since Ahok’s comments were made and yet there is still no progress on the case.
The protestors went to the Istana and demanded to see the president. Unfortunately, the President chose to check on a project rather than to meet the representatives of the demonstrators.
The situation heated up as there was no discussion made by the Government and the demonstrators and demonstrators said that there would be another action if there is no progress on the case.
Previously, people who committed any religious defamation in Indonesia were imprisoned. Lia Eden, Ahmad Mosadeq, and Arswendo Atmowiloto were arrested in less than 24 hours after the reports were made.
Subsequently, the Police confirms Ahok’s status to be a suspect in an ongoing investigation on 16 November and he was not allowed to travel outside Indonesia.
However, this action proved to be not sufficient to applease those who were offended, since suspects in earlier cases of defamation were detained by the time they were announced to be suspects by the Police.
Furthermore, Ahok poured oil on the already blazing situation by going on an interview with Australia media and said, “That’s why I need to got to the court to prove that this is political, not law.”
“It’s not easy, you send more than 100,000 people. Most of them, if you look at the news, said they got the money, Rp 500,000 (S$53).”
Many citizens were outraged to hear the statement. Many went forward and said that they were not being paid. Instead, they used their own money to pay for the expenses and some even paid for others.
Some even went further by making a police report against his statement.
The video had earlier went viral when a lecturer, Buni Yani, posted a video of Ahok on social media. Buni Yani wrote on his Facebook page that this video might cause chaos.
Tensions among the population got even more intense when the lecturer was listed by the Police to be the suspect of the case in accordance with the criminal offenses listed in Article 28, paragraph 2 of Law ITE, (Law on Information and Electronic Transactions) and is being detained on Wednesday (23 November).
Commissioner Setiyono said, “Because the article is not in accordance with the existing context in the video, but the concern is in what he wrote.”