Thousands of Indonesians protest religious bigotry, urge unity

November 19, 2016 6:30 pm
Thousands of Indonesians have rally in the capital to voice their concerns about racial and religious intolerance and call for unity among citizens of the Muslim-majority Southeast Asian state.
Religious leaders, lawmakers, members of human rights groups and others were among those taking part at the demonstration in central Jakarta on Saturday.
Some protesters, dressed in red and white shirts, carried posters bearing the national motto, Bhinneka Tunggal Ika, meaning “unity in diversity.”
“This is about diversity, but also about unity. We have to separate politics from ethnicity, religion, and race,” said 25-year-old protester Iwan Saputra, adding, “I want Indonesia to stay united.”
The rally came a few days after Indonesian police named Jakarta’s governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a suspect in a blasphemy case brought by a group suspected of Takfiri inclinations.  

Jakarta’s governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama gestures during his campaign for the next round of the governor elections in Jakarta, Nov. 16, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

The ethnic Chinese has been accused of blasphemy, sparking a mass protest earlier this month, which left one person dead and dozens more injured. Police used tear gas and water cannon to disperse the demonstrators.
Although the governor apologized for his comments, he could face a maximum of five years in prison if found guilty under Indonesia’s 1965 blasphemy law.
Indonesia, with a population of almost 250 million, has several minority groups and recognizes six religions.
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