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Anti-Ahok protesters, opposition camp mark 212 rally anniversary

Jakarta Post - December 2, 2018

Karina M. Tehusijarana, Jakarta Islamist groups and the opposition camp held a major rally marking the 2016 anti-Ahok rally in Jakarta on Sunday with a call for Muslims to shun political parties that backed the imprisoned former governor in the 2017 Jakarta election.

A group calling itself the 212 Rally Alumni was established to gather people who were involved in the rally on Dec. 2, 2016, to call for the prosecution of then-Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, for blasphemy.

The rally drew a huge turnout, possibly the biggest show of force from the opposition camp and the Islamist groups, which have long had a troubled relationship with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, after the campaign season kicked off in September.

The incumbent is running for reelection in the 2019 presidential candidate, facing his old rival Prabowo Subianto of Gerindra Party and running mate Sandiaga Uno, the former deputy governor of Jakarta.

Thousands of people, mostly wearing white clothes, had gathered at the National Monument (Monas) square since Saturday night. While most of them came from Greater Jakarta, there were also others who came from other regions, such as Central Java's Surakarta.

Apart from Monas square, other rally-goers also crowded the area around the Horse Statue in Central Jakarta located roughly 1-kilometer from the monument. Some people eventually decided not to join the rally as there was no room left, The Jakarta Post observed.

Presidential candidate and Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto attended the rally, as well as Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, who beat Ahok in the 2017 election.

They were present alongside officials from political parties supporting Prabowo and his running mate Sandiaga, including National Mandate Party (PAN) founder Amien Rais and party chairman Zulkifli Hasan, as well as Gerindra deputy chairman and House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Fadli Zon.

The committee, however, omitted their intention to invite President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to attend the rally. The committee issued a circular, as reported by tempo.co, that said it decided not to invite the President because Jokowi "was seen as opposing the rally and tried to incriminate clerics."

On Sunday morning, President Jokowi was scheduled to visit Bogor, West Java.

Making a speech during the rally, Prabowo said he could not talk much because he "bears the task of being a presidential candidate; therefore, he could not talk about politics during the occasion."

"I'd like to thank the committee for inviting me today. I'm proud of seeing millions of Indonesians, millions of Muslims, gathering here peacefully," he added.

During the rally, the committee played a recording of a speech by firebrand cleric and Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab. Later, the cleric joined the rally through a phone call from Saudi Arabia. He called on his supporters to continue the fight during the 2019 presidential and legislative elections.

"During the 2019 elections, it is haram [forbidden] for us to vote for presidential and legislative candidates backed by parties supporting the blasphemer. Let's vote for presidential and vice presidential candidates based on the decision of Ijtima Ulama [the consensus of the ulema],"

A 51-year-old rally-goer from West Jakarta, Sukarno, said the rally was meant to tighten the relationship among Muslims.

"There's no political interest [behind the rally] or any intention of supporting certain candidates," Sukarno said. Minutes after talking to the Post, he welcomed Rizieq's call to reject candidates backed by parties that supported Ahok.

Another participant from Bandung, Hendra, 22, said he would follow the call to support candidates produced from Ijtima Ulama "because it's a mutual agreement."

The crowd began to clear Monas square at 11:15 a.m. as the rally concluded. (foy/kuk)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2018/12/02/anti-ahok-protesters-opposition-camp-mark-212-rally-anniversary.html.

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