Thousands of protesters gathered in Jakarta earlier this month calling for the execution of its Christian governor over some remarks that were allegedly an insult to the Quran.
The protest was participated in by about 10,000 Islamic hardliners, who called Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as Ahok, as a “blasphemer.”
A report from Bangkok Post said that Ahok allegedly told a crowd that those who used verses from the Quran to convince people not to vote for him were deceiving them.
“You are being fooled,” he said, according to Bangkok Post.
Another report from the International Christian Concern said the protest was triggered when Ahok quoted the Quran while giving a speech before fishermen. Ahok also allegedly said his opponents had been quoting the Quran against him and telling people they were not allowed to vote a non-Muslim.
"Ahok must be executed. According to Islamic teaching, he must be killed," said Emed Muhammad, Ahok’s opponent , according to Bangkok Post. "Jakarta is now being governed by an infidel, but Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population."
Ahok, a Christian with a Chinese heritage, assumed the role of governor in Jakarta when the post was vacated by former governor and now Indonesian president Joko Widodo in 2014. Ahok is seeking to be elected to the post in next year’s election. Many Muslim hardliners are using the mosques to campaign against him.
At the Al Furqon mosque, ABC caught on film cleric Alwi Wahid telling the people not to vote for the “infidel.”
"Be careful on the judgement day — God will ask you, why did you choose the infidel as the leader, while I have warned you not to. Believers should not choose a non-Muslim as their leader," he said, adding that those who vote for a non-Muslim will face “bad consequences.”
Ahok dismissed the comments and said Indonesia has much to learn.
“I think it is democracy,” he said, refusing to condemn what Muslim leaders were saying about him. “We are just 71 years independent, I think we are more advanced if you compare [us] to the United States of America. If next year I could be elected as a governor in this city it is like the qualification of president 50 per cent plus one."
Ahok ‘s reputation as the tough-talking governor who possessed the determination to clean up the streets of Jakarta and fight against corruption has helped him gain popularity especially among the middle class and the younger voters.
However, many people feel that he should not be allowed to hold a government position because of his faith, according to ICC.