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    » 11/19/2014, 00.00


    As Ahok, a Christian and ethnic Chinese, becomes the first non-Muslim to lead Jakarta, Islamists rage

    Mathias Hariyadi

    In a break with tradition, Tjahaja Basuki Purnama was sworn in today by President Jokowi, his predecessor as Jakarta governor, at the Presidential Palace, and not by the Home Affairs Ministry. Extremist groups call for the ouster of the new governor. Thousands of police have been deployed to enforce security.

    Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Basuki Tjahaja 'Ahok' Purnama today became officially the new governor of Jakarta. This follows months of political deadlock and open hostility by extremist movements, led by the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), opposed to him because he is a Christian and an ethnic Chinese.

    During the official ceremony, the new governor presented his letters of credentials and took the oath of office before the president, who is also the outgoing governor of the Indonesian capital, President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo.

    The ceremony took place at the Presidential Palace, in central Jakarta, breaking with tradition whereby governors are sworn in by the Home Affairs minister.

    Thousands of police and soldiers were out in the streets patrolling sensitive areas to prevent attacks or end isolated incidents of violence.

    Popularly known as Ahok, Jakarta's new governor has his work cut out: first, because he is an ethnic Chinese and a Christian, and second, because he has shown strong character and integrity in the exercise of his functions, without a whiff of corruption or cronyism.

    He has shown such firmness in recent weeks, when he served as interim governor following Jokowi's resignation. Like the new president, whose deputy he was when the former was himself the governor of Jakarta, Ahok employs a language and approach that is even more inflexible and uncompromising than his predecessor.

    Many of his public statements have been met with dissatisfaction and anger, especially from extremist Islamic fundamentalist movements.

    The latter include the Islamic Defence Front, which the new governor would like to ban for causing violent incidents and for its extremist views on minority rights and religious freedom.

    In the last few hours, hundreds of extremists have been demonstrating, calling for Ahok's ouster. 

    The rise of the new governor is a milestone in the history of modern Indonesia, because for the first time a non-Muslim and an ethnic Chinese will occupy the capital's highest office. Many citizens and civil society groups expect important and quick changes.

    However, the domestic opposition does not appear willing to give up. In fact, until a few hours before the swearing in ceremony, attempts were underway behind the scene to prevent the inauguration of the new administration.

    The protection of minorities and religious freedom are among the priorities of President Jokowi's new administration, a priority to pursue by all legal means.

    However, this is not going to be an easy goal in the world's most populous Muslim country, where a large segment of society - and political class - adheres to an extremist view of Islam and shows hostility towards ethnic and religious minorities.

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    See also

    01/10/2012 INDONESIA
    Muslim-Christian duo to run Jakarta, Islamists lash out
    Jokowi and his deputy Ahok will begin running the capital on 7 October. For analysts and experts, their election marks an historic turning point. However, Muslim extremists bemoan their victory, calling it a bad and dark day for the nation. Islamists expect "immorality" will become widespread among residents.

    20/07/2015 INDONESIA – ISLAM
    Jakarta governor defends the right of Ahmadis to freedom of worship
    A Christian of Sino-Indonesian heritage, Ahok slammed recent attacks against the minority in the capital. On 10 July, Islamic extremist groups disrupted a prayer service in a place of worship they were able to shut down. For the governor, the principle of religious freedom applies to everyone. Indonesia "was not born under the tyranny" of the majority, "but based on the Constitution”.

    06/06/2016 11:41:00 INDONESIA
    Jakarta Governor: Headscarf not mandatory in schools

    Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, has spoken to 1700 principals of the metropolis, announcing students are free choose what clothes to wear: "Muslims cannot force everyone else to follow their precepts".


    26/01/2015 INDONESIA
    The "war" between police and anti-corruption agency shows President Jokowi's weakness
    The power struggle currently underway in Indonesia is threatening the country's stability. The corruption watchdog blocked the appointment of a close associate of former President Megawati to the post of police chief. As a result, the anti-corruption agency's chief has become the victim of a smear campaign, whilst his deputy chief has been arrested. Human rights activists and civil society groups have taken to the streets to defend the rule of law. The president is a hostage of those powerful groups that backed his presidency bid.

    15/10/2016 10:23:00 INDONESIA
    Jakarta, thousands of Islamic fundamentalists take to streets against Christian governor

    Protest organized by the Islamic Defenders Front: "The Koran calls for all the country's leaders to be Muslims." Basuki Tjahaja Purnama,known as "Ahok" is accused of blasphemy for having quoted the sacred text during a rally. Moderate Muslims distance themselves: "We do not agree with this initiative. The governor apologized. "

    Editor's choices

    The new bishop of Changzhi and the many voices on China-Vatican dialogue

    Bernardo Cervellera

    The ordination will take place on November 10 in the Cathedral. The bishop had been appointed by the Holy See at least two years ago. But he was waiting for the green light from Beijing. Similar situation in Chengdu. Fears for the presence of excommunicated bishops. Reconciliation between illegitimate and official bishops is not brought about by political gestures, but depends on personal and canonical procedures. A meeting between the Chinese delegation and the Vatican is not "imminent".


    Pope: the cruelty of those who kill children in Iraq “makes us weep”

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