In­done­sia moves to stop ‘growth of rad­i­cal­ism’

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo said yes­ter­day he was de­ter­mined to “pre­vent the growth of rad­i­cal­ism”, ap­par­ently re­spond­ing to ru­mors that Is­lamist ex­trem­ists were plan­ning protests to desta­bi­lize his govern­ment. Of­fi­cials say there has been mount­ing alarm within the govern­ment since more than 100,000 Mus­lims, led by hard­lin­ers, took to the streets of Jakarta on Nov 4 to de­mand the ouster of the cap­i­tal’s gover­nor, a Chris­tian, over al­leged blas­phemy. Na­tional Po­lice Chief Tito Kar­na­vian warned on Mon­day that cer­tain groups may try to storm par­lia­ment dur­ing ral­lies that are ex­pected this Fri­day and on Dec 2.

“There are hid­den meth­ods by cer­tain groups to en­ter and oc­cupy par­lia­ment... If (these ac­tions) are in­tended to over­throw the govern­ment, that’s a vi­o­la­tion of the law,” Kar­na­vian said, ac­cord­ing to me­dia. Wi­dodo has blamed “po­lit­i­cal ac­tors” for fan­ning vi­o­lence that erupted dur­ing the Nov. 4 protest, though he has not named any­one. An­a­lysts have said op­po­nents of Wi­dodo, the first In­done­sian pres­i­dent to have come from out­side the po­lit­i­cal elite or mil­i­tary, are us­ing the Is­lamic furore over the Jakarta gover­nor to un­der­mine him.

Wi­dodo held talks with a se­nior coali­tion part­ner yes­ter­day, the lat­est in a se­ries of meet­ings with top po­lit­i­cal, re­li­gious and mil­i­tary of­fi­cials to sig­nal the unity of his govern­ment and sup­port from the se­cu­rity es­tab­lish­ment. “I want to em­pha­size the spirit of plu­ral­ism ... and the govern­ment is de­ter­mined to pre­vent the growth of rad­i­cal­ism in this coun­try,” he told re­porters af­ter the meet­ing at the pres­i­den­tial palace. Wi­dodo has met re­peat­edly with the mil­i­tary and called for se­cu­rity forces to be on alert against fur­ther un­rest.

He has also met with top politi­cians, in­clud­ing the leader of his back­ing party, Me­gawati Sukarnop­u­tri, and op­po­si­tion leader Prabowo Su­bianto. The three have jointly called for calm. The trig­ger for the ten­sion was a com­ment that Jakarta gover­nor Ba­suki Tja­haja Pur­nama, the first Chris­tian and eth­nic Chi­nese in the job, made about his op­po­nents’ use of the Ko­ran in po­lit­i­cal cam­paign­ing. In­done­sia has the world’s largest Mus­lim pop­u­la­tion and is also home to size­able Chris­tian and Hindu pop­u­la­tions. Pur­nama, pop­u­larly known as Ahok, is run­ning for re-elec­tion in Fe­bru­ary against two Mus­lim can­di­dates, in­clud­ing the son of for­mer Pres­i­dent Susilo Bam­bang Yud­hoy­ono. Wi­dodo has been seen as one of the gover­nor’s main sup­port­ers.

Po­lice have opened a probe into al­le­ga­tions Pur­nama in­sulted the Ko­ran and ques­tioned him on Tues­day. Pros­e­cu­tors are ex­pected to bring a case to court in the com­ing weeks. He could face up to five years in prison if found guilty. Of­fi­cials are also in­ves­ti­gat­ing a so­cial me­dia cam­paign call­ing for a run on banks on Nov 25 in protest over the govern­ment’s han­dling of the com­plaint against Pur­nama, the po­lice press re­la­tions depart­ment said on Twit­ter. “It is our shared re­spon­si­bil­ity not to fol­low sug­ges­tions that are in­tended to in­flict dam­age,” Fi­nance Min­is­ter Sri Mulyani In­drawati told re­porters on Mon­day, in re­sponse to a ques­tion about a pos­si­ble run on banks. “...Eco­nomic re­cov­ery and sta­bil­ity are very im­por­tant for the public.”

—AFP

BANDUNG: In­done­sian Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo in­spects Air Force Spe­cial Forces (Paskhas) troops at the Paskhas head­quar­ters in Bandung, West Java prov­ince.

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