Tens and thousands of extremist flocked on the roads in Jakarta calling for trial of a Christian governor over charges of blasphemy. Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok is the first Christian governor in decades. Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is under severe criticism following his remarks about the holy Quran.
On Friday, November 4, about 150,000 rallied to demand his arrest. This protest was peaceful but clashes erupted when police and demonstrators confronted in each other outside the presidential palace. Police used tear gas to disperse the crowds.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, is the first Christian governor in almost 50 years. The ethnic Chinese Indonesian, took oath of the governorship in 2014. Governor Ahok, landed into trouble after he made a lighthearted comment to a group of fishermen back in September.
In his controversial remarks, Governor Ahok had cited a Quran verse that warns against taking Christians and Jews as friends. His comments were widely circulated on the social media, provoking the hardliner groups to accuse him of committing blasphemy. Blasphemy is a punishable offence in Indonesia.
50-year-old, Governor Ahok had repeatedly offered apologies to Muslims, and has decided to reject the calls to withdraw from the upcoming elections. “There was no intention to insult religion. I am sending my message to all offended Muslims: I sincerely apologize,” he said while talking to reporters.