Indonesia: President Joko Widodo says he’ll stop ‘growth of radicalism’

Indonesia: President Joko Widodo says he’ll stop ‘growth of radicalism’

National Police Chief Tito Karnavian warned on Monday of a threat to parliament during rallies expected this Friday and on Dec. 2.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Tuesday he was determined to “prevent the growth of radicalism”, after reports that Islamist extremists are planning protests to destabilise his government.

Officials say there has been mounting alarm in the government since more than 100,000 Muslims, led by hardline Islamists, took to the streets of Jakarta on Nov. 4 to demand the removal of the capital’s governor, a Christian, for alleged blasphemy.

National Police Chief Tito Karnavian warned on Monday of a threat to parliament during rallies expected this Friday and on Dec. 2.

“There are hidden methods by certain groups to enter and occupy parliament,” Indonesian media quoted him as saying.

“If (these actions) are intended to overthrow the government, that’s a violation of the law.”

Widodo has blamed “political actors” for fanning violence during the Nov. 4 protest, without naming anyone.

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Indonesia: Security leaders say anti-blasphemy rally may be treason guise

Indonesia: Security leaders say anti-blasphemy rally may be treason guise

The Parliament building was occupied by thousands of students during the mass protests in 1998 that caused dictator Suharto to step down.

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian authorities said Monday they believe a protest planned by Muslim hard-liners next month in the capital may be a guise for treason and are warning the organizers against holding the rally.

The protest planned for Dec. 2 is to demand the arrest of Jakarta’s minority-Chinese governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who is being investigated for alleged blasphemy after he spoke about a passage in the Quran that prohibits Muslims from electing non-Muslims as leaders.

National police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian and military chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo said at a joint news conference they have received credible information about the possibility of treason behind the planned rally.

“We know that they have held several meetings where they plan to mobilize people to occupy the Parliament building,” Karnavian said.

The Parliament building was occupied by thousands of students during the mass protests in 1998 that caused dictator Suharto to step down.

Karnavian said an attempt to try to occupy the building again could be seen as a move to topple President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s administration.

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Indonesia: Thousands march for tolerance in Jakarta

Indonesia: Thousands march for tolerance in Jakarta

Although the November 4 rally began peacefully, violence erupted after dusk, leading to police using tear gas. One person died of an asthma attack and several others were injured.

Around 3000 protesters have rallied in the Indonesian capital calling for unity and tolerance.

Around 3000 protesters have rallied in the Indonesian capital calling for unity and tolerance, amid rising ethnic and religious tensions sparked by allegations of blasphemy against the city’s Christian governor.

Earlier in the week, police named Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, as a suspect in a blasphemy case over accusations that he insulted Muslims in remarks about the Koran.

The police’s move came after more than 100,000 Muslims rallied earlier in November demanding Purnama, a member of the ethnic Chinese minority, be arrested for blasphemy.

Participants in Saturday’s rally, far smaller than the November 4 anti-Purnama protest, were dressed in red and white, the colours of the country’s flag.

‘We’re here to celebrate the country’s motto: Bhinneka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity),’ said Amir Hamzah, who took part in the rally.

Although the November 4 rally began peacefully, violence erupted after dusk, leading to police using tear gas. One person died of an asthma attack and several others were injured.

The blasphemy allegations stemmed from remarks made by Purnama during a meeting with Jakarta residents in September.

Purnama said his opponents in next year’s gubernatorial election had used a verse from the Koran to deceive voters and prevent him from winning another term.

Many Muslims in Indonesia interpret the text in question as prohibiting them from electing non-Muslims as their leaders, although many fellow Muslims disagree that Purnama’s remarks amounted to blasphemy.

Purnama became Jakarta’s first ethnically Chinese governor when he took over from Joko Widodo, now Indonesia’s president, in 2014.

Backed by Joko’s Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, he is seeking another term in the election scheduled for February 15. The General Election Commission has said Purnama’s status would not affect his candidacy.

DPA

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Indonesia: Calls Reemerge for Revocation of Blasphemy Laws

Indonesia: Calls Reemerge for Revocation of Blasphemy Laws

Activists have twice filed judicial reviews against the 1965 blasphemy law with the Constitutional Court in 2013 and 2008, but they were all rejected on the grounds that the law is necessary to maintain public order.

Jakarta. Calls are reemerging to revoke a set of legal provisions on blasphemy in Indonesia, which activists say have often been used to undermine minority ethnic or religious groups.

The calls come amid a blasphemy allegation launched by Muslim hardliners against Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in the lead-up to next year’s gubernatorial election.

Police have charged the governor, who is seeking re-election, earlier this week for violating the 1965 law on blasphemy.

“The blasphemy laws should be revoked. As long as they’re still in place, they’ll be used to discredit minority groups,” Bahrain of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation said on Friday (18/11).

Activists have twice filed judicial reviews against the 1965 blasphemy law with the Constitutional Court in 2013 and 2008, but they were all rejected on the grounds that the law is necessary to maintain public order.

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Indonesia: Moderate Islam at stake in Jakarta in Ahok’s blasphemy case

Indonesia: Moderate Islam at stake in Jakarta in Ahok’s blasphemy case

Ahok’s purported crime was to question the political motivations behind an edict by Islamic conservatives that the Koran forbids Muslims voting for non-Muslims.

As Jakarta’s Christian, ethnic Chinese governor fights for his political future and freedom, one thought must weigh heavily on his mind — no accused in almost half a century has won a blasphemy case in Indonesia.

Since named a police suspect on blasphemy charges this week, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has spent his days reassuring ­supporters he will not capitulate and end his re-election bid.

His opponents — a coalition of conservative Islamic groups and opposition leaders fielding their own candidates in February’s gubernatorial polls — are just as adamant Ahok must be jailed ­before the ­elections.

Whether he wins or loses, this battle could prove a watershed moment for this moderate ­Muslim-majority nation.

Indonesia has long been viewed by Western allies as a model of religious pluralism and stable democracy in the region, but mobilisation this month of more than 100,000 moderates and conservatives marching side-by-side to demand the once unassailably popular Ahok be punished for insulting Islam has raised questions about the direction of the country.

Ahok’s purported crime was to question the political motivations behind an edict by Islamic conservatives that the Koran forbids Muslims voting for non-Muslims.

Human Rights Watch campaigner Andreas Harsono fears the country’s blasphemy laws have proved such an effective political tool that they will be used more frequently. “I think by next February Ahok will be detained. I don’t think even the political ­forces that support Ahok can turn this around. I hope I am wrong.”

For Harsono, and thousands of others expected to march through Jakarta today in defence of pluralism, the crisis is a battle for the soul of the largely tolerant capital amid fears of a “Pakistan­isation of ­Indonesia”.

There are parallels with a case in Pakistan six years ago that led to the assassination of liberal Punjab governor Salman Taseer.

Progressive Pakistanis were shocked when Taseer’s killer — his bodyguard — was showered with rose petals by lawyers and supporters as he entered court. Many protested it did not reflect Pakistani society, a moderate Sufi Islamic culture far from the austere creed of Arab Wahabism. His killer claimed he acted out of religious duty because Taseer was seeking a pardon for a Christian woman sentenced to death for blasphemy, and to amend laws frequently used to oppress minorities and settle personal scores.

As in Indonesia today, moderate and extremist Muslim Pakistanis, who might have clashed on every other issue from honour killings to the Taliban, found themselves united. ­Taseer’s murder had a chilling effect on public debate and many look back on that moment as a marker for ­middle-class Pakistan’s switch to a more conser­vative Islam.

“Blasphemy laws go straight to the fundamentals of faith … It’s the one issue on which hardline groups can mobilise mainstream opinion so effectively because they raise the stakes so high,” says Omar Wairach, a former Islamabad-based journalist and spokesman for Amnesty International.

Indonesia had its chance to ­repeal its blasphemy laws — a ­legacy of the dying days of the Sukarno era. The late, liberal Muslim scholar and former president Abdurrahman Wahid led an unsuccessful 2009 petition of the Constitutional Court, arguing the laws violated the enshrined right to religious freedom. His daughter Yenny says he was motivated by the escalation of blasphemy charges under successor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

The Setara Institute says 15 blasphemy cases were tried from 1965 to 1998. In SBY’s 10 years in power, from 2004 to 2014, some 51 cases were tried, with a 100 per cent conviction rate.

Many believe President Joko Widodo, whose PDI-P backs Ahok’s re-election bid, was referring to SBY when he blamed ­“political actors” for the violence at the November 4 rally. SBY’s eldest son, Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, is one of Ahok’s rivals.

Yenny Wahid suspects Indonesians would be less likely to support the laws’ repeal today than even a decade ago. “I have met rational, highly educated individuals who say Ahok crossed a line,” she says.

Even she drew breath when she heard Ahok’s speech, though she rejects the concept of ­blasphemy. “We have been working so hard to promote tolerance and pluralism but the sentiment at the moment is so raw over this issue. For me, the real challenge now is how to peel the moderates away from the radicals?”

Analysts believe charging Ahok with blasphemy was intended to do just that; ­separate moderates content to let the law take its course from the radicals and powerbrokers who will not relent until they have their biggest scalp. In such an environment, it is far from clear Ahok can defeat the charge, but his failure would “set an ugly precedent” for Indonesia, Wairach says. “People should look to Pakistan and see the dangers of these laws.”

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Indonesia: Police Name Christian Governor of Jakarta Suspect in Blasphemy Case

Indonesia: Police Name Christian Governor of Jakarta Suspect in Blasphemy Case

Ahok apologized for the flap that he had caused, but some Muslim organizations reported him to the authorities after a video recording of the event went viral online.

Indonesian police Wednesday named Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama a suspect in a blasphemy case, following mass protests demanding his prosecution, but this will not bar him from seeking reelection in February, officials said.

Ahok, a Christian and first member of Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority elected as governor of the capital, had been questioned by police on more than one occasion over alleged anti-Muslim comments he had made in September. On Tuesday, national police held a 10-hour, closed-door hearing in Jakarta to determine whether they should declare Ahok a suspect, during which dozens of witnesses and experts testified.

“Even though it was not unanimous, we reached an agreement that this case should be processed in an open trial,” Gen. Ari Dono, the commander of the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department who presided over the hearing, told reporters at national police headquarters on Wednesday.

“Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, alias Ahok, has been named a suspect,” Ari said.

Ahok, who said he was still in the race for the gubernatorial election in February despite the announcement by police, is accused of blasphemous speech for telling attendees at an event in September that people might “fool them” into not voting for him by using the Quran’s Surah Al-Maida Verse 51 – which some interpret as prohibiting Muslims from having non-Muslim leaders.

Ahok apologized for the flap that he had caused, but some Muslim organizations reported him to the authorities after a video recording of the event went viral online.

Muslim anger over his remarks did not die down and led to mass demonstrations against the governor. On Nov. 4, an anti-Ahok demonstration that drew some 100,000 protesters to central Jakarta ended in violence as angry crowds attacked police barricades, set fires and looted stores.

‘Not ineligible’

According to the Indonesian General Election Commission, Ahok will be allowed to contest the upcoming polls, although police have now named him as a suspected blasphemer. Under the laws of Indonesia, the country with the world’s largest Muslim majority, speech deemed blasphemous or offensive to members of a particular faith is open to prosecution.

“[He is] not ineligible, unless the court later decides to sentence Ahok to five years or more,” Sumarno, chairman of the Jakarta office of the General Election Commission, told BenarNews on Wednesday.

Citing Indonesian electoral regulations, Sumarno said that a person’s candidacy for public office would be terminated if a court convicted and sentenced a candidate to the long prison term.

Reacting to Wednesday’s announcement, Ahok said he remained confident that he would still win the election, and that he would allow the potential criminal case against him to go through the courts without trying to block it.

“I am grateful to the police for the process. I will accept [this]. I think this is a good example for democracy,” MetroTV quoted Ahok as saying.

More protests coming?

Now that Ahok is officially a suspect in the blasphemy probe, one political observer expressed hope that this could calm tensions and anger among Muslims who have demanded that he be prosecuted.

“[The noise] can certainly be reduced,” Adi Prayitno, a political analyst from the State Islamic University of Jakarta, told BenarNews. “The anger of Muslims at least can be eased.”

After police made the announcement, plans of another anti-Ahok demonstration circulated, but Indonesia’s police chief urged people to hold off on more protesting because the legal process against the governor was now under way.

“So, if anyone wants to take to the streets, for what? There is only one answer – the agenda is not about Ahok,” National Police Chief Tito Karnavian said.

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Indonesia: Jakarta’s Christian governor answers police summons in blasphemy probe

Indonesia: Jakarta’s Christian governor answers police summons in blasphemy probe

On Friday, over 100,000 people from various Muslim groups swarmed Jakarta streets to urge authorities to prosecute Ahok for alleged religious defamation.
Gubernatorial candidate and incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama answered a police summons on Monday to be interrogated on his role in an alleged blasphemy case, three days after a mass demonstration pressured police to prosecute him.

Ahok arrived at the National Police’s headquarters in South Jakarta at 8:15 a.m., accompanied by several members of his gubernatorial campaign team, including City Council Speaker Prasetio Edi Marsudi of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), councilors Merry Hotma of the PDI-P, Muhammad “Ongen” Sangaji of the Hanura Party and Democratic Party lawmaker Ruhut Sitompul, who is also a lawyer.

“As leader of Ahok’s campaign team, I want to give him moral support,” Prasetio told reporters.

Ahok, meanwhile, made no comments before entering to the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) office, only giving a smile and wave to the press.

Ruhut, meanwhile, said Ahok and his campaign team would respect the ongoing legal process.

“We respect Pak Tito [Karnavian, the National Police chief]. We will wait whether there is any [basis] for religious defamation or not. If not, then we should accept it. Indonesia is a country that is based on the rule of law,” he said.

Previously on Friday, over 100,000 people from various Muslim groups swarmed Jakarta streets to urge authorities to prosecute Ahok for alleged religious defamation.

Ahok, a Christian and Indonesian of Chinese descent in a Muslim-majority country, has sparked uproar among Islamic groups after he made a comment about a Quranic verse during his visit to Thousand Islands regency in late September. The police has received dozens of reports regarding the case. (hwa)

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Indonesia: Ahmadiyya Muslims not part of anti-Ahok demonstration on Friday

Indonesia: Ahmadiyya Muslims not part of anti-Ahok demonstration on Friday

Ahok’s statement might offend some Muslims in the country since the video, during which he allegedly defamed Islam, was selectively edited and people, therefore, could not hear the full context of his statement.

 

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama is in the spotlight amid a planned rally by thousands of hardline Muslims on Friday demanding that he be charged with blasphemy for saying that some people had been “deceived” by other people using Al-Maidah 51, a verse in the Quran.

The governor has apologized for the incident, saying he did not intend to insult the Quran, but the apology has failed to appease the anger of hard-line Muslims.

The Ahmadiyah community, an Islamic sect regarded as heretical by mainstream Muslims and persecuted in Indonesia, said that they would not take part in Friday’s demonstration.

Aryudi Prastowo, head of Ahmadiyah’s East Jakarta and Bukit Duri branch, said on Thursday that they would respect Ahok as the legitimate governor of Jakarta.

Aryudi added that Ahok’s statement might offend some Muslims in the country since the video, during which he allegedly defamed Islam, was selectively edited and people, therefore, could not hear the full context of his statement.

“If you see the full video you will be aware that Ahok was only expressing his concern about the issue without trying to defame the Quran,” he said.

In July 2015, the Ahmadiyah congregation in Bukit Duri, South Jakarta, became a target for persecution by a hard-line group.

At the time, the Jakarta administration sealed a house that had been used as a place of worship by Ahmadiyah followers, after a crowd of locals objected to Friday prayers at the house and claimed the congregation had committed blasphemy against Islam.

Ahok urged the South Jakarta administration not to seal the mosque, but a red notice remains on the property’s fence to this day, while a banner opposing the minority group still hangs nearby and no Friday prayers have since taken place there.

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Indonesia: Fears over violence in Jakarta as hardline Islamists protest governor’s ‘blasphemy’

Indonesia: Fears over violence in Jakarta as hardline Islamists protest governor’s ‘blasphemy’

18,000 police deployed as thousands expected for demonstration against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or ‘Ahok’, who they accuse of ‘insulting Islam’

Security forces in the Indonesian capital Jakarta are on high alert in preparation for a Friday rally by hardline Islamist groups against the city’s non-Muslim governor.

Thousands of people are due to move into the capital to protest against Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese and Christian nicknamed ‘Ahok’, who has governed the city since 2014.

They accuse him of blasphemy after he criticised his opponents for referencing a verse in the Koran that warns against allying with Christians and Jews.

In September, Ahok suggested those who used the passage against him were “lying”, leading to outrage from some hardliners who interpreted his comments as criticism of the Islamic holy text. He later apologised.

President Joko Widodo said on Monday that he had ordered the “state apparatus to be on alert” during the protests.

The main group behind the rally, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) which formed in 1999, is known for violent demonstrations and attacks on minorities.

The group tried unsuccessfully in 2014 to block Ahok from becoming governor on the grounds that a Christian should not lead a Muslim-majority city. And later that year, a protest by the FPI turned violent leaving several police officer injured.

On Friday, demonstrators will attend prayers at Istiqlal Mosque and then march to the presidential palace, where armoured personnel carriers have been stationed and the police and military will be deployed.

“I appeal to everyone to stay calm. Do not be easily provoked by the social media,” said National Police Chief General Tito, adding that 18,000 personnel have been deployed. The Indonesian military will provide a further 500 troops.

The rally is the second large demonstration against Ahok in a month. On 14 October, thousands took park in a generally peaceful event outside city hall.

As the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, Indonesians largely practice a moderate form of Islam. While the FPI is a relatively small group, the country’s largest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, has told its 40 million members not to support the protests.

But equally, Indonesia’s Ulama Council, the country’s top Muslim clerical body, agreed that Ahok had committed blasphemy and should be prosecuted. It said a non-Muslim should not become a leader of Muslims.

The southeast Asian nation has a history of sporadic and isolated violence against Christian as well as its large ethnic Chinese minority, many of whom are Buddhists.

International militant jihadists, some with influence and members in Indonesia, are looking to capitalise on the anti-Ahok sentiment.

Last month, al Qaida’s branch in Syria, Jabhat Fatah al-Sham, said that Indonesia should sentence Ahok or it would “sentence him with bullets’. And ISIS supporters have sent messages to their supporters asking them to use the rally ‘to fan the flames of jihad’.

“It’s clear that everyone is worried about violence, and huge numbers of police and soldiers have been called up for duty,” said Sidney Jones, the director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict.

The governor is looking toward a February election and looks likely to win. He is politically close with president Widodo, who also served as Jakarta governor for 18 months before rising to the country’s highest office and handing over to Ahok.

But Jones said that supporters of Anies Baswedan, a former minister of education who is second behind Ahok in the gubernatorial race, are exploiting the potentially explosive upheaval to damage him politically.

“The problem is that there are too many interests involved here: Ahok’s rivals would like to decrease his likelihood of winning; hardline civil society groups want to show that they control the streets; pro-shariah groups want to show massive support for Islamic law; the tiny jihadi groups are urging their members to show their courage by attacking police.”

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Indonesia: Govt must help Sampang Shiites and Ketapang Ahmadis return home: Komnas HAM

Indonesia: Govt must help Sampang Shiites and Ketapang Ahmadis return home: Komnas HAM

The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) has called on the government to immediately help members of Muslim minority groups Shia and Ahmadiyah return to their hometowns and livelihoods. Their cases, says Komnas HAM, have been neglected for too long.

The two groups have been consigned to poverty after being stripped of the right to live their lives when they were expelled from their hometowns in Sampang, East Java, and in West Kalimantan, respectively, the commission chairman M. Imdadun Rahmat said on Thursday.

“Both cases have been long neglected because there is no set scheme from the government for returning them to their hometowns,” Imdadun said in a press conference.

“This can’t be allowed. The state has to be there for them.”

They have lived in poor conditions in shelters since being expelled from their hometowns for allegedly committing blasphemy. Their status as refugees has not only affected their livelihoods but also created a domino effect through their entire families.

“They cannot send their children to school, hampered by constantly improving their standard of living and finding jobs to meet their basic needs,” he added.

A mob of around 1,000 people attacked Blu’uran and Karang Gayam in Sampang on Madura Island in East Java in August 2012, forcing 270 Shiites to take refuge in low-cost apartments provided by the government in Sidoarjo, where they have stayed until today.

Meanwhile, over 110 followers of the Ahmadiyah group were violently evicted by a mob from their village in Ketapang, West Kalimantan in February 2006. They were relocated to a shelter in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara and remain there. (vps/rin).

iRabwah | News Watch |
Source/Credit: The Jakarta Post
By TJP | June 30 2016