JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s chief of police warned on Monday that demonstrators may try to storm parliament to protest against the Christian governor of the capital Jakarta, who, they say, insulted the Koran.
Police used tear gas and water cannon on Nov. 4 to disperse more than 100,000 protesters demanding that the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, resign. He has denied blasphemy but nevertheless apologised for his comments. [nL4N1D51Y3]
Purnama is standing for re-election in February and will compete with two Muslims for the job – a powerful position that was a stepping stone for Joko Widodo to the presidency in 2014.
According to local media, police chief Tito Karnavian and military chief Gatot Nurmantyo, said on Monday: “There are hidden methods by certain groups to enter and occupy parliament… If (actions) are intended to overthrow the government, that’s a violation of the law.”
Karnavian did not elaborate on the identity of these groups and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Police last week widened an investigation into the comments made by Purnama, the first Christian and ethnic Chinese politician to hold the position.The blasphemy complaint was brought against him by Muslim groups, and prosecutors are expected to bring a case to court in the coming weeks. Purnama could face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
Indonesia is the world’s largest Muslim majority nation and is also home to sizeable Christian and Hindu populations.
Many Muslims have been protesting for weeks against Purnama and Widodo, who is seen as one of his major supporters.
Karnavian called on all sides to respect the legal process.
Moderate Muslim groups have echoed this sentiment, but some conservative groups have pushed for police to detain Purnama.
Authorities are expecting anti-Purnama rallies to be held on Nov. 25 and Dec. 2. It is unclear how many protesters will attend.