November 2016 Jakarta protests

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A group of Indonesian National Police officers (foreground) standing within the protest attendees (background). Several protesters can be seen waving Indonesian flags alongside the flags of their respective Islamist groups.

November 2016 Jakarta protests (also called Protests defending the Quran[1] or 4 November peace protests[2]) refer to an Islamist mass protest which took place on 4 November 2016 in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was attended by an estimated 50,000–200,000 protesters,[3][4] and was aimed against the Governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (popularly known as "Ahok"), for an alleged blasphemy of the Quran, the Islamic holy book.[5] A counter protest led by government officials and social activists in support of interfaith unity was led on 30 November.[6]


Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known by his Chinese nickname "Ahok", became the Governor of Jakarta, when as Vice-Governor, he took over from Joko Widodo, who was elected President of Indonesia in 2014. He is Jakarta's first ethnic Chinese governor, and the first non-Muslim in 50 years. His ethnicity and Christian faith make him a double-minority in Muslim-majority Indonesia. He sought to be elected in his own right in the 2017 gubernatorial election. Some Islamic groups opposed his campaign, citing a passage of the Quran, notably verse 51 of Sura al-Ma'idah, which they interpret as a prohibition on Muslims from electing a non-Muslim leader.[7]

On 27 September 2016, in a speech in front of citizens of Thousand Islands, he noted that some citizens would not vote for him because they are being "deceived using Verse 51 of Al Maidah and other things,"[8] referring to a verse that some groups have cited as grounds to oppose him.[7] The provincial government of Jakarta uploaded the video recording to YouTube in a channel which often features Basuki's activities.[9] Citizens and pundits criticised Basuki's statement, considering it an insult to the Quran.[8] Another video was uploaded by a man named Buni Yani, who edited the video in a way that changed the meaning of Ahok's words. In the original video, Ahok says, "Ladies and gentlemen […] you have been deceived by the use of Al Maidah 51 [of the Quran]", while in the accompanying texts, Buni wrote, "Ladies and gentlemen [Muslim voters] have been deceived by Al Maidah 51."[10][11]

The videos went viral and Basuki was criticised in social media such as Facebook and Twitter. A petition criticising him gained tens of thousands of signatures.[9] Several organizations, including the Islamic Defenders Front (Indonesian acronym: FPI) and a local chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council, reported Basuki to the police, accusing him of having violated Indonesia's Law On Misuse and Insult of Religion. Basuki apologized on 10 October, but the report was not withdrawn, and the police began working on the case.[12]

Because Buni Yani's edited version of the video defamed Basuki, Buni was charged with inciting religious and ethnic hatred on social media under Article 28 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison. Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Awi Setiyono commented, "We have found sufficient evidence to build a case and name him a suspect." Buni denied the charge, saying that he only deleted some of the footage before uploading it, though he conceded to making errors in transcribing the speech.[13][14]

Prelude to protest[edit]

In response to Basuki's speech and the alleged delays in the police case against him, several Islamic organization, including the FPI lead's by Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, planned a mass protest. Indonesia's two biggest Islamic organizations Nahdlatul Ulama and Muhammadiyah did not encourage their members to attend the protest, but did not go as far as prohibiting members to attend it. Flyers for the action called for attendees to be prepared for possibly staying overnight.[15] Indonesian police deployed 7,000 personnel in anticipation of the protests.[16] Security was also increased in Jakarta's Chinatown and in Christian churches.[17][18]

On 3 November, the day before the protests, Indonesian government blocked access to eleven websites affiliated with the planning of the protests, on the charge of spreading hateful sentiments.[19]


Protests against Basuki in Jakarta, 4 November 2016

The protests began around noon with a march from Istiqlal Mosque to the Presidential palace. The march was largely non-violent and organized.[4] Estimates for the attendance ranged from 50,000[3] to 200,000.[4] Former Parliament Speaker Amien Rais, Vice-Speakers of Parliament Fahri Hamzah and Fadli Zon, an Islamist leader Bachtiar Nasir, leader of FPI Muhammad Rizieq Shihab, as well as celebrities Ahmad Dhani and Rhoma Irama attended the protest.[20][21] However, after nightfall, past the allotted time for the protest,[22] groups of violent demonstrators provoked a riot and clashed with the police, setting fire to some vehicles. One elderly man died in the riots,[23] and at least 160 protesters and 79 police officers were injured.[4] The protest location began to be calm around 21.00 local time.[24]


Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who met representatives of the protest, promised that the investigation would be completed within two weeks.[23] At midnight 5 November, President Joko Widodo held a press conference on the protests, and reiterated his commitment to legal action against Basuki.[4][25][26]

On 2 December, another rally was held in Central Jakarta, which was attended by estimated 200,000-500,000 people. The rally begins with a non-violent protest around Central Jakarta and culminating in a massive Friday congregational prayer in the Merdeka Square, surrounding the National Monument.[27][28]


On 30 November, counter protests were held by a number of Muslim officials and activists, alongside members of other religious communities.[6][29] Indonesian National Armed Forces Commander Gatot Nurmantyo, Minister of Social Affairs Khofifah Indar Parawansa, Indonesian National Police Chief Tito Karnavian and Islamic activist Yenny Wahid marched in support of interfaith unity as a counterbalance to the protests on the December 4.[citation needed]

On 4 December 2016, after a nonviolent rally was held in the National Monument, a counter-protest rally was held by Muslim officials and government officials. The protest, dubbed as the "We Are One Parade" or "Parade Bhinekka Tunggal Ika" ("Unity in Diversity Parade") was attended by an estimated 1,000 people.[30][31]


  1. ^ "Sejumlah Tokoh Muslim Siapkan Aksi Bela Alquran di Istana Negara | Republika Online". Republika. Retrieved 27 November 2016.
  2. ^ "Aksi Damai Jakarta Jadi Trending Topic Dunia". Republika. 4 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  3. ^ a b "Indonesia protest: President Joko Widodo cancels Australia visit". BBC News. 5 November 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e McKirdy, Euan (5 November 2016). "Thousands rally in Jakarta over governor's alleged blasphemy". CNN.
  5. ^ "50,000 Muslim hardliners rally against governor in Jakarta". Bangkok Post. 4 November 2016.
  6. ^ a b Asmara, Tia (30 November 2016). "Indonesians Rally for Unity in Military-Backed Demonstrations". Benar News.
  7. ^ a b "Basuki Tjahaja Purnama: Jakarta's governor". BBC News. 4 November 2016.
  8. ^ a b Sasongko, Agung (6 October 2016). "Video Ahok: Anda Dibohongi Alquran Surat Al-Maidah 51 Viral di Medsos". Republika.
  9. ^ a b Iqbal, M. (6 October 2016). "Soal Al Maidah 51, Ahok: Saya Tak Berniat Melecehkan Ayat Suci Alquran". Detik News.
  10. ^ La Batu, Safrin (14 December 2016). "Accompanying text of Ahok video not intended as transcript: Buni Yani". The Jakarta Post.
  11. ^ "Buni Yani Questioned Again in Cyber Harassment Case". Jakarta Globe. January 2017.
  12. ^ "UU penodaan agama dianggap diskriminatif dan tak sesuai HAM". BBC News. 3 November 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  13. ^ "Buni Yani, uploader of Ahok's blasphemy video, named suspect". The Jakarta Post. 23 November 2016
  14. ^ La Batu, Saffrin (21 December 2016). "Court rejects Ahok video uploader’s pretrial motion". The Jakarta Post.
  15. ^ "Lima hal yang perlu diketahui soal demonstrasi 'tangkap Ahok' 4 November". BBC Indonesia. 1 November 2016.
  16. ^ "Mabes Polri siagakan 7.000 personel amankan protes 'tangkap Ahok'". BBC News. 31 October 2016. Retrieved 5 November 2016.
  17. ^ Ah, Wahyu. "Trauma '98, TNI Jaga Ketat Kawasan Pecinan". Retrieved 4 November 2016.[dead link]
  18. ^ "Jelang demo, aparat jaga ketat di sejumlah gereja". 4 November 2016.
  19. ^ "Government shuts down 11 Islamic websites ahead of mass rally". The Jakarta Post. November 3, 2016.
  20. ^ Nugroho, Bagus Prihantoro (5 November 2016). "Siapa Aktor Politik yang Tunggangi Demo Damai Berujung Rusuh 4 November?". Detik News.
  21. ^ "Untuk Demo Ahok, GNPF MUI Mengaku Disubsidi Rp 100 Miliar Lebih -". Retrieved 2016-11-07.
  22. ^ Kuwado, Fabian Januarius (5 November 2016). "Jokowi Apresiasi Demo Damai, tetapi Menyesalkan Akhirnya Rusuh". Kompas.
  23. ^ a b "Indonesia protest: Jakarta anti-governor rally turns violent". BBC News. 4 November 2016.
  24. ^ Nugroho, Bagus Prihantoro (5 November 2016). "Siapa Aktor Politik yang Tunggangi Demo Damai Berujung Rusuh 4 November?". Detik News.
  25. ^ Rudi, Alsadad Rudi; Kuwado, Fabian Januarius (5 November 2016). "Ini Pernyataan Lengkap Presiden Jokowi Terkait Demo 4 November". Kompas.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  26. ^ "Ini Pidato Presiden Jokowi Soal Demo 4 November". Tempo. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  27. ^ "Mass prayer rally in Jakarta against governor 'Ahok'". BBC News. 2 December 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  28. ^ Varagur, Krithika (2 December 2016). "Evicted Jakarta Residents Join Hardline Rally Against Governor". VOA. Retrieved 3 December 2016.
  29. ^ Police Chief Calls for National Unity. Tempo. 30 November 2016. Accessed 5 December 2016.
  30. ^ Hariyanto, Ibnu (4 December 2016). "Potret Kemeriahan Parade Bhinneka Tunggal Ika di Area CFD". Detik News.
  31. ^ "Parade Bhinneka Tunggal Ika di bundaran HI serukan persatuan". BBC News Indonesia. 4 December 2016.

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