212 2.0: Anti-Ahok mass rally planned for tomorrow but GNPF-MUI and FPI leader Rizieq Shihab won’t attend

Members of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) march with their leader Rizieq Shihab during a protest calling for a provincial police chief to step down over what they say was ‘police violence’ against them, outside of the National Police headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 16, 2017. Photo: REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

Not to be confused with the 212 mass rally on December 2, there is going to be another protest rally against Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama by hardline Islamist groups on February 21, also dubbed 212 (because it seems the organizers can just arbitrarily change the order of the date and the month – we’re calling the latter 212.2 just to avoid any confusion).

Thousands of protesters from hardline Islamic groups, such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic Community Forum (FUI) are expected to descend on the House of Representatives (DPR) complex to demand that Ahok be removed as governor of Jakarta because of his status as a defendant in the ongoing blasphemy trial. 

Oddly, unlike previous anti-Ahok mass rallies, tomorrow’s protest won’t be attended by leaders of the GNPF-MUI (National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council’s Fatwa), as well as certain FPI leaders who have arguably been the most outspoken against Ahok.

“For 212 on February 21, 2017, leaders of the GNPF-MUI won’t attend. Habib Rizieq [Shihab] as chairman of the council and Pak Munarman won’t attend because [the rally] is the people’s domain. These three parties won’t attend unless something undesirable happens,” said GNPF-MUI lawyer Kapitra Ampera, as quoted by Detik yesterday. 

Kapitra did not give a satisfactory explanation as to why FPI leader Rizieq Shihab and FPI spokesman Munarman won’t attend 212.2. We’re not saying they are necessarily connected, but it should be noted that Rizieq is facing numerous criminal charges at the moment, including blasphemy, while Munarman may also be facing trouble with the law for allegedly insulting President Jokowi in a sermon and spreading lies about traditional Hindu guards in Bali.

Despite the absence of those key leaders, tomorrow’s rally is expected to be large. The police are reportedly deploying over 10,000 personnel to prevent any aforementioned “undesirable” events.

The protesters are expected to march to the DPR complex at around 7am after holding a mass dawn prayer.


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