Jakarta pol­i­tics heat­ing up

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE - Sita W. Dewi

The re­cent power strug­gle among po­lit­i­cal elites may have spilled out onto the street on Fri­day, as a hard­line group with in­for­mal ties to de­feated pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Prabowo Su­bianto held a rally in front of Jakarta City Hall that erupted into what po­lice be­lieve was a co­or­di­nated riot.

The Jakarta City Po­lice have ar­rested at least 20 mem­bers of the group, the Is­lam De­fend­ers Front (FPI), fol­low­ing a protest at the City Hall com­pound on Jl. Medan Merdeka Se­la­tan in Cen­tral Jakarta on Fri­day.

More than 10 po­lice of­fi­cers, in­clud­ing the Gam­bir Po­lice Precinct chief, were in­jured, while a num­ber of cars were dam­aged after hun­dreds of pro­test­ers wav­ing FPI flags threw rocks of con­sid­er­able size to­ward the City Coun­cil build­ing.

A nearby Tran­s­jakarta bus shel­ter was van­dal­ized and sev­eral lux­ury cars be­long­ing to city coun­cil mem­bers were dam­aged.

The FPI had ral­lied in op­po­si­tion to Jakarta Deputy Gov­er­nor Ba­suki “Ahok” Tja­haja Pur­nama, a Chris-

FPI chair­man Habib Rizieq ap­par­ently re­fuses to turn over al­leged ring­leaders Gerindra thanks FPI for the rally

tian of Chi­nese de­scent, ob­ject­ing to his re­li­gious af­fil­i­a­tion and eth­nic back­ground. Later this month, Ahok will re­place pres­i­dent-elect and out­go­ing Jakarta Gov­er­nor Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo.

The FPI has pub­licly re­pu­di­ated Ahok, claim­ing to speak for all Mus­lim Jakar­tans when they said they did not wish to be led by a Christian leader — a ten­u­ous claim as the group has no cred­i­bil­ity to speak for the larger Mus­lim com­mu­nity in Jakarta or else­where.

The group also took is­sue with the fact that Ahok, as gov­er­nor, would au­to­mat­i­cally head a num­ber of Is­lamic or­ga­ni­za­tions in Jakarta.

Jokowi was not present at City Hall dur­ing the protest and Ahok was in South Korea at­tend­ing the clos­ing cer­e­mony of the Asian Games.

Jakarta City Po­lice chief Insp. Gen. Ung­gung Cahy­ono said that the FPI had en­gi­neered the rally to end in vi­o­lence as the pro­test­ers — sev­eral of whom had trav­eled from Ban­dung, Ma­jalengka and Tasik­malaya in West Java to at­tend — ar­rived with rocks in their trucks.

“It’s not a spon­ta­neous [vi­o­lent protest],” said Ung­gung, who later led at least 200 of­fi­cers to cor­don off FPI head­quar­ters on Jl. Pe­tam­bu­ran in Cen­tral Jakarta to lo­cate Habib Sha­hab Ang­gawi and FPI sec­re­tary­gen­eral Novel Bamu’min, the al- leged co­or­di­na­tors of the vi­o­lence.

FPI chair­man Habib Rizieq ap­par­ently re­fused to turn over Sha­hab and Novel to the po­lice, in­stead giv­ing up their as­sis­tant, Ir­wan.

“We’re still ne­go­ti­at­ing with Habib [Rizieq],” said Ung­gung, who was in­stalled as po­lice chief in early Septem­ber.

The FPI has ac­quired a rep­u­ta­tion for car­ry­ing out vi­o­lent vigilante acts to “re­in­force Is­lamic teach­ings”.

Gerindra Party Jakarta chair­man and coun­cil deputy speaker M. Tau­fik, who once served sev­eral years in prison for graft, thanked the group for hold­ing the rally and promised that he would do what­ever was nec­es­sary to end Ahok’s ca­reer. “Ahok is to blame for this vi­o­lence,” Tau­fik said.

The FPI sup­ported Prabowo, Gerindra’s pa­tron, dur­ing the re­cent pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Gerindra’s anger to­ward Ahok stemmed from the lat­ter’s re­cent decision to re­sign from Gerindra in protest at the party’s support of a re­gional elec­tion law that scrapped di­rect elec­tions for gover­nors, may­ors and re­gents.

Prabowo and his brother, Hashim Djo­jo­hadikusumo, have vented their re­sent­ment at Ahok pub­licly, call­ing him a “jumping louse” for his pur­ported pen­chant for chang­ing par­ties.

The FPI protests, how­ever, may not be limited to a re­pu­di­a­tion of Ahok’s back­ground and fit­ness to lead, as the group de­manded Ahok re­tract a state­ment call­ing coun­cilors who sup­ported in­di­rect elec­tions “ex­torters”. The Prabowo-led Redand-White Coali­tion are staunch sup­port­ers of in­di­rect elec­tions. (


Pawn swap: Plain­clothes po­lice of­fi­cers es­cort a mem­ber of the Is­lam De­fend­ers Front (FPI), Ir­wan (cen­ter, wear­ing jacket), from the hard-line group’s head­quar­ters in Pe­tam­bu­ran, Cen­tral Jakarta, on Fri­day.

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