An anti-government protest in Jakarta attended by at least 200,000 turned violent Friday, when police used tear gas and turned a water cannon on the crowd. An elderly man was killed in the chaos, while several others were injured, police among them, according to police cited by the Associated Press.
The event was held as a protest against Jakarta’s governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. Purnama, better known as “Ahok,” has two strikes against him, being both a Christian in a Muslim majority country, and the first ethnic Chinese to serve as the Indonesian capital’s governor. Chinese citizens comprise approximately 1% of Indonesia’s 250 million population, the BBC reported.
In addition to, or perhaps in connection with, his ethnicity and religious background, the protesters rage was directed against Purnama for statements he made in February perceived by some as blasphemous towards Islam. At the time, Purnama said a verse in the Koran interpreted to prohibit Muslims from being ruled by a non-Muslim was being exploited by Islamic groups to deceive voters.
Despite apologizing for the remarks, Purnama is under police investigation. The indignation against him has not abated, as according to CNN, many of those at the protest shouted “Kill Ahok,” and “Kill Ahok for insulting Islam,” with others carrying signs demanding that he suffer the death penalty.