Thousands gather in Jakarta to support Muslim candidates

Jakarta residents head to the polls on Wednesday to pick their next governor, in a contest which analysts say has morphed into a proxy fight ahead of a presidential election in 2019.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Protesters rally against Jakarta incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta, Indonesia, February 11, 2017.

More than 100,000 Indonesians descended on Jakarta's grand mosque on Saturday to call on people to vote for Muslim candidates running against the city's incumbent Christian governor in an upcoming election.

Saturday is the final day of campaigning for Wednesday’s vote in which Ethnic Chinese Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama is facing two prominent Muslim challengers.

Purnama, known by his nickname Ahok, won popularity for his no-nonsense style and determination to clean up Jakarta.

But he has seen a once unassailable poll lead whittled away after being hauled into court for a blasphemy trial that critics view as unfair and politically motivated.

The allegations against him centre on comments he made about a Koranic verse.

He accused his opponents of using the verse, which some interpret as meaning Muslims should only support Muslim leaders, to trick people into voting against him.

TRT World spoke to Jakarta-based journalist Jack Hewson for the details.

TRTWorld and agencies