Governor questioned after violent protest
INDONESIAN police questioned Jakarta’s Christian governor yesterday for allegedly insulting Islam, after the accusations sparked a violent mass protest by hardliners in the Muslim-majority country.
The November 4 demonstration started peacefully but descended into chaos as night fell with protesters torching police cars and hurling rocks and bottles in the heart of the capital, as they demanded the leader be jailed for blasphemy.
Scores of police officers were injured and one man died amid the clashes close to the presidential palace after tear gas fired by authorities triggered an asthma attack.
The protest involving tens of thousands of hardliners was sparked by accusations governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian and a member of the ethnic Chinese minority, insulted the Koran during campaigning for elections for the Jakarta governorship.
He said his opponents were using a Koranic verse which suggests Muslims should not choose nonMuslims as leaders in order to trick people into voting against him.
Police had already launched an investigation into Mr Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, before the protest after Muslim groups accused him of breaking the country’s tough blasphemy laws.
If found guilty Mr Purnama – who is favourite to win the February elections against two Muslim opponents – could be jailed for up to five years.