In­done­sia pres­i­dent cancels Aus­tralia trip af­ter protest

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo yes­ter­day can­celed a visit to Aus­tralia af­ter a mas­sive rally in the cap­i­tal by Mus­lim hard-lin­ers de­scended into vi­o­lence, leav­ing one dead and nearly 200 in­jured. The For­eign Af­fairs Min­istry said that Jokowi’s trip sched­uled from Sun­day to Tues­day will be resched­uled be­cause “cur­rent de­vel­op­ment has re­quired the pres­i­dent to stay in In­done­sia.”

Jokowi ad­dressed the na­tion late Fri­day af­ter clashes broke out be­tween po­lice and hard-lin­ers who re­fused to dis­perse and de­manded the ar­rest of Jakarta’s mi­nor­ity-Chris­tian gov­er­nor for al­leged blas­phemy. Na­tional po­lice spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told a news con­fer­ence yes­ter­day that one el­derly man died from asthma at­tack af­ter be­ing ex­posed to tear gas, and more than 90 po­lice and sol­diers were in­jured, eight of them se­ri­ously. He said that about 160 protesters were hurt from tear gas ef­fects, in­clud­ing four who were hos­pi­tal­ized.

Jokowi blamed “po­lit­i­cal ac­tors” for tak­ing ad­van­tage of the rally. He didn’t elab­o­rate, but his pre­de­ces­sor Susilo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono had backed plans for the protest, drew tens of thou­sands of peo­ple. The ac­cu­sa­tion of blas­phemy against Jakarta Gov. Ba­suki “Ahok” Tja­haja Pur­nama, an eth­nic Chi­nese and mi­nor­ity Chris­tian who is an ally of Jokowi, has gal­va­nized Jokowi’s po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents in the Mus­lim­ma­jor­ity na­tion of 250 mil­lion, and given a no­to­ri­ous group of hard-lin­ers a na­tional stage.

The Is­lamic De­fend­ers Front, a vig­i­lante group that wants to im­pose Shariah law, is de­mand­ing Ahok’s ar­rest af­ter a video cir­cu­lated on­line in which he joked to an au­di­ence about a pas­sage in the Qu­ran that could be in­ter­preted as pro­hibit­ing Mus­lims from ac­cept­ing nonMus­lims as lead­ers. The gov­er­nor has apol­o­gized for the com­ment and met with po­lice.

Amar said the sit­u­a­tion be­came un­con­trol­lable when protesters broke through po­lice bar­ri­cades and se­cu­rity bar­ri­ers in an at­tempt to en­ter the pres­i­den­tial palace be­fore they were stopped by po­lice fir­ing tear gas.

Three po­lice and mil­i­tary trucks were burnt down and 18 ve­hi­cles dam­aged in the vi­o­lence. He said po­lice are still in­ves­ti­gat­ing who was be­hind the vi­o­lence and whether any po­lit­i­cal el­e­ments were in­volved with the aim of cre­at­ing un­rest. Ten peo­ple were ar­rested for al­legedly pro­vok­ing ri­ots near the pres­i­den­tial palace and 15 oth­ers for van­dal­ism in north­ern Jakarta. Jakarta po­lice spokesman Awi Setiy­ono said ri­ot­ing in north Jakarta in­volved the loot­ing of a con­ve­nience store and dam­age to po­lice ve­hi­cles. — AP

JAKARTA: A Mus­lim pro­tester walks past burn­ing po­lice trucks dur­ing a clash out­side the pres­i­den­tial palace. — AP

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