1 dead during Jakarta anti-Ahok rally; President Widodo cancels Australia visit

Angry mobs try to enter the housing complex in northern Jakarta where Governor Purnama, known widely as Ahok.

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Members of the hardline Islamic group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), stab an effigy of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama or Ahok as they reject Ahok as their governor in front of Jakarta's city hall, December 1, 2014. Reuters

The bloody protest launched by Islamist outfits in Indonesian capital Jakarta has resulted in the death of one person while many others have been injured, police have said.

The rally held by hardline Muslims pressing for the dismissal and arrest of the city's Christian governor Ahok for alleged blasphemy turned violent with protesters unleashing arson and mayhem overnight.

An elderly man died possibly from the effects of tear gas, Jakarta police spokesman Awi Setiyono said, Today Online reported. The police said at least four civilians and three police officers were injured in the violence.

Meanwhile, SBS News reported that President Joko Widodo has cancelled visit to Australia following violence at the anti-governor protest.

The angry mobs did not disperse after the nightfall, triggering clashes with the police. The standoff resulted in the police firing tear gas shells and using water cannons on the protesters.

The jihadist-led protesters then torched at least eight police vehicles. The nerve centre of the violence was a spot near the presidential palace, where thousands of protesters, who had been transported to Jakarta from fa-flung villages, engaged the police personnel with bamboo sticks and bottles.

There have been questions earlier if President Joko Widodo had given a clear and stern warning against the rise of radical groups and the intolerance they preach. Widodo issued a statement on Friday urging protesters to go home and people to maintain peace and order.

The angry mobs tried to enter the housing complex in northern Jakarta where Governor Purnama, known widely as Ahok, lives but the police foiled the move.

Governor Ahok was widely condemned for allegedly misquoting a verse from the Quran during one of his speeches in September. During the speech, Ahok criticised his opponents for citing a verse in the Quran which warns Muslims against forming an alliance with Christians and Jews saying that they were "lying". This led to an outrage and the governor was accused of criticising the Islamic holy text.

The hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which is in the forefront of attacks against Christian and Hindu minorities and the gays and the lesbians, was the chief organizer of the anti-Ahok rally.