04/29/2017, 12.56
INDONESIA
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Jakarta, public outpouring of affection and gratitude for Ahok

by Mathias Hariyadi

Citizens want to express their admiration. Each day thousands go to the town hall. The area in front of the palace flooded with signposts and floral decorations. Radical Islamist group's initiatives against the Christian governor continue. On 9 May the verdict of the blasphemy trial. Ahok: "Disliked and hated because of my faith and my ideas."

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Thousands of Indonesians are expressing their affection and gratitude to governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama and his deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat for their work in the Grand Jakarta (DKI Jakarta).

On April 19, Ahok failed to win the second round of the most intense and controversial elections in the country's history, defeated by rival Anies Baswedan. Since then, many of his supporters have expressed their admiration for the Christian governor, who will leave his post in October. For so many Indonesians, he is the symbol of courageous and clean administration dedicated to the development of the city and to the improvement of the people's well-being.

In recent days, Jakarta City Hall has become a tourist attraction. Since April 27, every day, thousands of people from all over the country travel to the government building. As the governor performs his duties, they wait patiently for their turn to meet and take pictures with Ahok. The large number of people visiting the office has prompted security personnel to create a set of rules for those wishing to send their greetings to the governor. Visitors are required to take a number, stand in a row and mark their hands after taking pictures, to prevent them from reuniting with the queue.

Since April 25, the area in front of the palace has been flooded with flowers and decorations sent by citizens as a sign of solidarity with the outgoing administration. On April 27, the numbers rose rapidly to more than 2,000 and forced the authorities to transfer many of them to the Monas National Monument in downtown Jakarta.

While on the one hand the public affection of Ahok has increased, on the other hand, the initiatives of radical Islamist groups against him do not stop. Yesterday, Jakarta police deployed 4,600 agents in the wake of a demonstration of Islamists. They demand that the Jakarta court condemn the Christian Governor, in the manipulated blasphemy case that has been dragging on for months. The 1,500 participants attending the rally, organized by the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (Gnpf-Mui) extremist movement, marched throughthe streets of Jakarta from the Istiqlal Mosque to the tribunal.

The verdict of the trial is scheduled for May 9th. During the last hearing of April 25, Ahok declared himself victim of an orchestrated case of defamation. He told the judges that, as governor, he worked only to improve people's well-being. "I will continue to help the poor and needy, though defamed and hated because of my faith and my ideas. I will continue to serve [the citizens] with love, "Ahok told the court.

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