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Islamist challenge mounts in Indonesia and Bangladesh

Governments must find a strategy to outflank groups advocating intolerance

| Indonesia

The ethnically Chinese and Christian governor of Indonesia's capital Jakarta, Basuki Purnama, is facing a tight election contest on Feb. 15 in which race and religious issues have been thrust forward by firebrand Islamists. Accused of committing blasphemy, Purnama -- known as "Ahok" -- is up against an intense wave of Islamist resurgence that dramatically manifested itself in mass protests in Jakarta last November, ostensibly to defend the Quran.

An estimated 200,000 people participated in those events, demanding prosecution of Ahok -- a close political ally of Indonesian President President Joko Widodo -- and urging the implementation of Sharia rule across the nation.

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