The governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, was, on Wednesday 16 November, formally named as the “blasphemy” suspect for an alleged anti-Islamic comment he made in a video posted online. Police are now preparing the docket: the court case will be open to the public and televised live. Following violent Muslim protests in the capital that rapidly spread to other parts of the country on 4 November, Islamic extremists are organising mass rallies on Fridays 25 November and 2 December to demand Ahok’s immediate resignation and detention.
Amid rumours that hard-line Islamists are planning to storm the Indonesian parliament, President Joko Widodo said, on 22 November, that the Purnama furore is a smokescreen by Islamists to undermine his presidency. Placing the security forces on a state of high alert, the president went on: "I want to emphasise the spirit of pluralism ... the government is determined to prevent the growth of radicalism in this country."
Indonesia is balanced on a knife-edge as Islamic radicalism menaces. Governor Purnama is the Islamists’ pretext, the victim of the piece who could, ostensibly, pay for the role with his life.