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Indonesian hard-line Islamist groups flex their muscles

Growing protest movement against Jakarta governor challenges political establishment

Protesters chanting during the Dec. 2 Islamist demonstration against the Jakarta governor, a Chinese-Indonesian Christian known by his nickname Ahok. In the background is Indonesia's National Monument, or Monas. (Photo by Simon Roughneen)

JAKARTA -- On Dec. 2, Islamist groups organized the largest demonstration that Indonesia has witnessed since the overthrow of President Suharto in 1998 to urge the prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama -- popularly known as Ahok -- for blasphemy after he allegedly misrepresented the Quran.

Approximately one million people weathered a monsoon storm to participate peacefully in what was billed as a "Rally to Defend Islam" as they held a huge outdoor Friday prayer congregation.

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