Indonesia LIVE: Anti-Ahok Islamist rally begins in Jakarta; police on high alert

Security has been beefed up and business area and shopping mall are being secured in Jakarta

Anti-Ahok rally
Members of a hardline Islamic group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), burn an effigy of Jakarta Governor Reuters

3:42 pm: According to Indonesia Investments, Jakarta police reported a minor brawl between students that took place in East Jakarta, in front of the Rawamangun bus terminal. However, authorities are not sure if the incident is related to the anti-Ahok demonstration.

3:00 pm:

2:45 pm: Thousands of protesters march through Jakarta waving flags and demanding the ouster of Ahok. Police have also issued alert about possible ISIS,and al-Qaeda attack through its Indonesian proxy Jemaah Islamiyah.

12:59 pm: Anti-Ahok protesters have started gathering at the Istiqlal Mosque, from where they are likely to march to the palace to urge President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo to take action against the governor's alleged profanities.

According to Reuters, a protester named Muhammad said: "He is not Muslim but he humiliated the Koran...Don't refer to anything in the Koran, especially interpreting it incorrectly...I call on God to jail him."

12:05 pm: Thousands of National Police and the military personnel have been deployed to maintain strict vigil and ensure safety as organizers have announced that 35,000 to 50,000 people are likely to join the demonstration.


Security has been beefed up and business areas and shopping malls are being secured as the large-scale anti-Ahok rally begins on Friday.

The rally has been organised by Muslim hardliners, mainly by The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), against the city's Chinese Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok.

Governor Ahok was highly 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.

Meanwhile, the situation in Jakarta is tense as people fear that the rally will not only spur ethnic and religious tensions in the country but also jeopardise next year's much-anticipated Jakarta gubernatorial race, in which Ahok is seeking a second term.

Anti-Ahok rally
Hardline Muslim groups block a street during a protest against Jakarta's incumbent governor Ahok Reuters

However, President Widodo assured the citizens about safety and encouraged them to go to work and school as usual on Friday.

"Those who work, go to work as usual and those who go to school, go to school as usual," said Jokowi and Vice President Jusuf Kalla as reported by The Jakarta Post.

Moreover, the country's top Islamic clerical body and the two largest Muslim groups have urged people to boycott the protest.

After a meeting with the president, Nahdlatul Ulama Supreme Council chairman Ahmad Ishomuddin urged people not to participate in the rally saying, "Muslims should avoid the rally and not create troubles. We hope the demonstration will pass peacefully. We certainly don't want any casualty."

It is also reported that several people have put up banners on overhead bridges calling for Indonesians to respect diversity. "Your religion or ethnicity doesn't matter, as long as you can do something good for everybody," said one banner, according to Channel News Asia.

Hashtags like #wearenotafraid (#kamitidaktakut) and #peaceaction411 (#aksidamai411) are trending on Twitter as people call for peace and ask the public to avoid any extremist movement.