Jakarta police tightens security before Ahok blasphemy trial begins

The trial will start from 13 December at the old Central Jakarta Court building.

Jakarta police
Anti-riot police stand during security preparations ahead of 2 December's planned protest by hardline Muslim Reuters

Security has been beefed up in Indonesian capital city Jakarta ahead of the city's governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's blasphemy trial. The trial will start from 13 December at the old Central Jakarta Court building.

The Chinese Christian leader was named the prime suspect in the high-profile blasphemy case on 16 November. Ahok received flak for allegedly misquoting a verse from the Quran during one of his speeches in September where he allegedly 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".

Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Raden Prabowo Argo Yowono said on 9 December that security personnel will be deployed to maintain peace and order in the city. "We will put extra officers in at potential trouble spots," said the officer, according to The Jakarta Globe. "The public is smart and understands the law, people will stay calm. We will make sure everything is safe," he added.

However, it is still not confirmed where the trail will move after its opening session in the old Central Jakarta Court building on Jalan Gajah Mada in Central Jakarta. "So far we've only confirmed the place for the opening session of the trial. We don't know yet where the next sessions will take place," said Argo, as reported.

Though the officer said that the close proximity of the court and the Presidential Palace is not concerning, he is sceptical about huge gatherings that could disrupt the traffic. In such cases, Argo said, there will likely be road detours to take traffic around the court building, the news website reported.

Jakarta police have been on high alert since the city became the hub of protests by Muslim hardliners against the governor. On 2 December Tens of thousands of Indonesians took to the street to be a part of the second anti-Ahok rally, demanding his immediate arrest.

Prior to the peaceful protest, things went out of hand when gangs of jihadists torched police cars and attacked officers during the first anti-Ahok rally on 4 November. Police had to fire tear gas, water cannon and truncheons into thousands of rioting protesters to bring the situation under control. It was also reported that the angry mobs tried to enter the governor's housing complex in northern Jakarta but the police foiled the move.