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Indonesia police vow to block 'political' rally led by Islamists

access_time Jan 31,2017 chat_bubble_outline 47 views

By Tom Allard and Agustinus Beo Da Costa

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police will block a rally in Jakarta next month led by the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) if the group intends to make it political just days before an election for city governor that has raised religious tension.

The FDI has led two rallies over the past year targeting the ethnic Chinese, Christian Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, which drew hundreds of thousands of Muslims calling for his jailing over allegations he insulted the Koran.

The FPI leader, Habib Rizieq, was on Monday declared a suspect over allegations he insulted Indonesia's state ideology, Pancasila, which enshrines religious diversity in an officially secular system.

Jakarta police chief Mochamad Iriawan told Reuters in an interview on Monday the FPI's plan for another rally on Feb. 11, four days before the Jakarta elections, indicated it would be political in nature, and if so, it would not be allowed.

"The end of the campaign period should not be disrupted by the planned protest," Iriawan said.

"If the context is as they said on social media - 'we should vote for a Muslim person as our leader' - it looks like a political campaign."

The rallies late last year raised concerns among investors that Islamist militancy and mob rule were taking hold in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Indonesia has the world's largest Muslim population, the majority of whom follow a moderate form of Islam.

The naming of Rizieq as a suspect comes amid signs that authorities are taking a firmer stance to contain the rise of the FPI and other Islamist groups.

'BIG MESS'

Purnama, who is known as Ahok and is an ally of President Joko Widodo, is contesting the Feb. 15 election against two Muslim candidates.

He was named a blasphemy suspect on Nov. 16, days after the first big FPI rally, and is on trial. He denies the charge.

Iriawan said the FPI had yet to apply for a permit for its rally, and the group would only be allowed to proceed if "they just hold a prayer".

Rizieq also faces investigations into alleged blasphemy and hate speech, including remarks by him that communist symbols had been hidden in new Indonesian bank notes and comments mocking the notion that Jesus was the son of God.

FPI spokesman Slamet Maarif said the group's supporters would defend Rizieq "until the last drop of our blood".

There has been a increase in blasphemy complaints filed to police since the accusation was leveled against Purnama in October.

Tobias Basuki, a political analyst at the Jakarta-based Center for Strategic and International Studies, said Indonesia's laws criminalizing slights against religion and the national ideology of Pancasila were being abused.

"These blasphemy laws are being used against pretty well anyone for anything," he said. "Frankly, they are just politically motivated plays but they are creating a big mess for Indonesia."

"These are just concepts and we are repressing the potential for healthy debate. Meanwhile, very little is done to stop actual hate speech which threatens lives."

(Editing by Ed Davies)

Trio win Nobel Chemistry Prize for tiny molecular machines

The winners of the 2016 Nobel Chemistry Prize (L-R) Jean-Pierre Sauvage, J Fraser Stoddart and Bernard L Feringa are displayed on a screen during a press conference to announce the winners of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Chemistry at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm on October 5, 2016. Photo by AFP/Jonathan Nackstrand Jean-Pierre Sauvage of France, J Fraser Stoddart of Britain and Bernard Feringa of the Netherlands won the Nobel Chemistry Prize on Wednesday for developing… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

New commercial centre put into operation in Ho Chi Minh City

Located at Section B of the September 23 Park in District 1, the Sense Market commercial centre is a new business model, combining traditional and modern markets to meet the shopping and recreational needs of domestic customers and international tourists. The complex consists of an 11,000 m2 basement, of which its 6,000 m2 parking lot can house 150 automobiles and 600 motorcycles, contributing to solving traffic jams and parking needs in the downtown areas. The remaining 5,000 m2 area is… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

German police probe Facebook Jewish list post

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Russia to destroy all of its chemical weapons by end of 2017

MOSCOW (AP) — A top Russian official says Russia will destroy all of its chemical weapons by the end of next year, a year earlier than previously announced.Col.-Gen. Valery Kapashin, a military official in charge of storage and elimination of Russia's chemical stockpiles, told news agencies on Thursday that the remaining weapons will have been disposed of by December 2017.As a signatory of the international Chemical Weapons Convention, Russia already has destroyed about 93 percent of its… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

Carrasco's late equalizer earns Belgium 1-1 draw with Dutch

AMSTERDAM (AP) — Yannick Carrasco scored a late equalizer and teammate Romelu Lukaku squandered two good chances as Belgium came from behind to draw 1-1 with the Netherlands in the 126th Low Countries derby on Wednesday.Ajax captain Davy Klaassen had given the Netherlands the lead from the penalty spot in the 38th minute as the neighbors played a friendly to prepare for their World Cup qualifiers on Sunday.Belgium had been looking forward to the return from a string of injuries of captain… chat_bubble_outline Read More...

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