On Friday 4 November, thousands of people gathered to protest against the governor of Indonesia’s capital.
The governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – known as Ahok, is a Christian man.
Hard-line Muslim protesters have demanded his arrest. It is alleged that he made blasphemous comments about the Quran.
These allegations came after Ahok said his opponents (in the upcoming February elections) had deceived voters by attacking him using a verse from the Quran. The verse implies Muslims should not have a non-Muslim as a leaders.
Ahok later apologised for his remarks. He said he was not criticising the verse in the Quran but rather those who used it against him. (ABC)
It’s estimated over 100,000 people turned up on Friday to protest, demanding he be arrested.
On Friday evening, the protest in front of the House of Representatives turned violent. The crowd tried to forcefully enter the compound, threw rocks at police and let off firecrackers. Around 100 people were injured and 1 person was killed. They had a permit to protest until 6pm on Friday night, but some protesters refused to leave until the early hours of Saturday morning.
Indonesian President Joko Widodo cancelled his plans to visit Australia on Saturday, because of the situation.
A police investigation into the allegation against Ahok has begun. Police have promised a speedy and transparent investigation.
Ahok is governor of Jakarta, the capital city of the largest Muslim-majority nation – by population – in the world. Out of 260.5 million people, 86% are Muslim.
Though the Christian population in Indonesia is over 30 million, they are a minority. Many suffer for their faith in Jesus. In the province of Aceh, strict Islamic Sharia law is in place and Christians have faced persecution for years.
In October 2015, 11 churches were destroyed in Aceh when violence broke out between Muslims and Christians. Thousands of Christians were displaced at the time. It hit close to home for Christians here in Australia and New Zealand.
Aceh is the only province in Indonesia allowed to enforce Sharia Law. It has become one of the toughest places for Indonesian Christians to live and exercise their faith.
Open Doors works in Indonesia supporting the persecuted church. In a recent seminar, an Open Doors worker said, “The devil uses people who don’t live in Christ to destroy the body of Christ… Muslims need to hear the gospel, so that they know that Christ suffered and died for them too.”
- Pray for the church in Indonesia to be strengthened in their faith so that they can share the gospel.
- Pray for provision for believers in Aceh who lost homes and churches. Pray they would have new homes and places to meet together.
- Pray that Christians would be loving and forgiving to their Muslim neighbours, seeking to be the light of Christ to them.