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Jakarta’s main student body won’t join 212 rally, wants peace and calm for elections

Ahok's supporters hold banner saying "Ahok did not insult religion but insults corruption." Image via Antara Foto/Reno Esnir/Reuters.

A coalition of university student groups in Jakarta has said it is not involved in and will not join a protest rally against the city’s governor that will be held in the Indonesian capital tomorrow, the Jakarta Globe reports.

The coalition of Badan Eksekutif Mahasiswa (BEM), is calling for security and stability ahead of the second round of elections for Jakarta’s governor, set amidst bitter rows over the powerful post of Jakarta governor as well as political and religious tensions.

Last year, the Christian governor was charged with blasphemy for insulting the Muslim holy book, the Koran. The controversial trial is currently underway, in a case seen as a test of religious freedom in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

Mass protests calling for the imprisonment and death of Jakarta’s current governor last November had turned violent when protesters clashed with the police forces, prompting tear gas and water cannons to be deployed.

Tomorrow’s protest rally organised by the Indonesian Muslim Forum (FUI) is to demand for his suspension. It will take place in front of the national legislative complex in Senayan, South Jakarta.

A rally that Islamist groups had planned for February 11 was banned by the police over security concerns. Protesters later turned the gathering in a mass prayer at the Istiqlal Mosque in central Jakarta.

Jakarta’s governor ‘Ahok’ waves to the crowd as he attends a music concert ahead of this month’s elections in Jakarta, Indonesia February 4, 2017. Image via Reuters/Darren Whiteside.

“We, the Jakarta coalition of BEM, state that we are neither joining nor involved in the upcoming 212 protest,” said Ayaturrahman, the coordinator for the Jakarta Association of University Student Executive Bodies (BEM)

He said Tuesday’s rally will likely involve a certain political agenda and that the union is concerned about possible provocation that could result in conflict.

“We need to take a firm stand in this situation since we want the Jakarta election to proceed in proper and transparent way,” Ayaturrahman said on Sunday.

He added that the coalition is committed to maintaining peace and calm in the capital ahead the second poll, scheduled for April and will support any legal action against those who violate the law.

The Jakarta Islamic University (UIJ), Jayabaya University, Borobudur University, Hamka University, Indraprasta University, Jakarta Attahiriyah Islamic University, Mpu Tantular University, Jakarta Banking and Economy Academy, Sint Carolus Health Academy and Al-Aqidah Islamic College are members of the BEM.

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