Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo cancels trip to Australia after deadly protest

November 6, 2016 7:30 am

Protesters demand the arrest of a minority-Christian governor for alleged blasphemy. Photo / AP

Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has cancelled a visit to Australia after a rally in the capital by an estimated 150,000 Muslim hard-liners descended into violence, leaving one dead and 12 injured.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry says Jokowi’s trip, scheduled from today 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.
They demanded the arrest of Jakarta’s minority-Christian governor for alleged blasphemy.
Police say an elderly man died from an asthma attack after being exposed to tear gas, and the injured included eight soldiers and police and four civilians.

His predecessor, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, backed the protest.Jokowi blamed “political actors” for taking advantage of the rally.
Clashes broke out between police and hardcore protesters who refused to disperse after nightfall.
Police fired tear gas and water cannons, and protesters set alight two police vehicles and piles of rubbish left behind from the protest, which drew tens of thousands of people.
The predominantly male demonstrators, most wearing white shirts and skull caps, had massed at the Istiqlal Mosque for the protest following weekly Friday prayers and marched on the nearby presidential palace.
Large protests also took place in other cities including Medan on Sumatra, Makassar in Sulawesi and Malang in East Java.
The accusation of blasphemy against Ahok, an ethnic Chinese and minority Christian who is an ally of the president, has galvanised his political opponents in the Muslim-majority 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 Koran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders.
The governor has apologised for the comment and met with police.
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