Islamic hardliners planning huge 212 anti-Ahok rally anniversary, thank Gov Anies for letting them use Monas

Protesters gather at Jakarta’s National Monument park as part of a rally against Jakarta’s former Christian Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on December 2, 2016. Photo: AFP
Protesters gather at Jakarta’s National Monument park as part of a rally against Jakarta’s former Christian Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on December 2, 2016. Photo: AFP

The massive rally in protest of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama on Dec. 2, 2016, was seen very differently by different people.

While detractors saw it as an attempt by Islamic hardliners to politically destroy the once popular Chinese-Christian leader by taking advantage of people’s prejudices and piety, those who took part in it saw “Aksi Bela Islam (Action in Defense of Islam) 212” as being about love and defending their religion against Ahok’s alleged blasphemy (even though surveys showed most of them didn’t even understand what those allegations were exactly).

Seeking to commemorate their day of glory, the so-called Presidium Alumni 212 (a group of people who both think that you can be the alumni of a one-day rally and apparently don’t know that presidium is a term closely associated with communism) are planning to hold a “grand reunion” event at Monumen Nasional (Monas) on Saturday, Dec. 2.

Although religious and political events had been banned from Monas at the time of the original 212 rally, police made an exception because the huge number of protesters (estimated to be around 500,000) threatened to paralyze Central Jakarta if it had taken place on the streets as planned.

Coincidentally, recently inaugurated Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan (who many would argue defeated his predecessor largely due to the effects of the anti-Ahok rallies) has announced his plans to overturn the long-standing ban on religious activities at Monas, seemingly clearing the way for the 212 reunion event to take place there.

Slamet Maarif, the chairman of Alumni Presidium 212, thanked Governor Anies for making the area around the landmark open to everybody.

“It’s good; that area is a symbol of Jakarta, anyone can use it. That means Pak Anies wants to build an area that belongs to everybody,” said Slamet as quoted by Tribun today.

Slamet said that an invitation to the 212 reunion had been extended to the governor and Vice Governor Sandiaga Uno and they were just waiting for their confirmation.

It’s not clear whether or not Anies will show up at Monas on Dec. 2. He chose not to attend an anniversary event for the last major anti-Ahok rally on Nov. 4, causing Eggi Sudjana, the lawyer for Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab, to despair that it was like Anies had simply used them to win the election.

As for the infamous FPI chief, Slamet said an invitation had been extended to Rizieq as well, though it was unsure if he would be able to attend since he’s still supposedly hiding in Saudi Arabia as a fugitive from the Indonesian police after being named a suspect in a high-profile pornography case.

But Slamet said that even if Rizieq isn’t able to attend, he’ll likely remotely preach to the “millions” of 212 alumni that Slamet says will definitely be coming to the reunion (and no, there were definitely not millions of people at 212, despite the hardliners’ wildest overestimations).

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