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    » 11/19/2014, 00.00

    INDONESIA

    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.

    21/09/2012 INDONESIA
    Jakarta: election victory for challenging duo, ethnic Chinese Christian deputy governor
    According to exit polls, Jokowi-Ahok ticket has won (with 53% of the vote). Analysts and experts speak of "historic victory ", which will be also reflected in the national political landscape. The election campaign marked by personal attacks against the Christian candidate.



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