04 November 2016

Jakarta mayor’s Koran joke sparks huge Muslim protest

Tens of thousands of fundamentalist Muslims gathered in the Indonesian capital Jakarta this morning to demand the arrest of its Christian governor for joking about the Koran.

Fears of violence were allayed by the presence of 16,000 police and soldiers as crowds of men in white shirts and skull caps met at a mosque and marched on the presidential palace.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian allied to President Widodo, has apologised for remarks he made in a video posted online. The governor, known as Ahok, joked that a passage of the Koran could be interpreted as banning Muslims from accepting leaders of other faiths.

Sister protests are being held in other cities as the vigilante Islamic Defenders Front capitalises on the controversy. The group wants to impose Sharia law and has demanded the governor’s arrest.

“We are here because we want to defend the verses of God that have been abused by Ahok,” said Nasrullah Achmad, a protester who travelled into central Jakarta with his Islamic study group. “Only one thing can stop us: Ahok’s arrest.” [The Times (£)] Read more