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Hard-line Muslim Protest Against Christian Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama Ends in Violence

The saga began in October, when Ahok dismissed his political opponents who had cited a Quranic verse that warns against Muslims supporting non-believers

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Muslim protesters march during a demonstration in Jakarta, Indonesia, Nov. 4, 2016. Tens of thousands of hard-line Muslims converged Friday on the center of the Indonesian capital to demand the arrest of its minority-Christian governor for alleged blasphemy. VOA
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A massive demonstration in Jakarta against the governor turned violent Friday night when protesters burned police cars and officers responded with tear gas and water cannons. Police say at least one person was killed and seven wounded in the violence.

The scenes capped off a dramatic day that brought more than 50,000 hard-line Muslim protesters onto the streets to voice their ire at the city’s Chinese-Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who has been accused of blasphemy.

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Tensions were high across the capital throughout the day, exacerbated by reports that Islamic State members in Syria had posted messages on social media calling for their followers to carry out attacks during the protest.

The marchers — led by the radical Islamic Defender’s Front (FPI) — arrived from across the archipelago to voice their opposition to Basuki, known as “Ahok”, who is seeking re-election as Jakarta’s governor, in February.

Some chanted “death to Ahok” while others stamped on placards of his image, but violence was averted during the day.

Tensions rose as night fell and tear gas was fired after demonstrators began throwing plastic bottles at their officers early in the evening.

The saga began in October, when Ahok dismissed his political opponents who had cited a Quranic verse that warns against Muslims supporting non-believers.

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The embattled governor said that Jakartans had “been lied to” by the verse in question and remarked, “If you feel you can’t vote for me because you fear you’ll go to hell … no worries. That’s your personal right.”

Ahok has since apologized and said he never intended to cause offense, but it has done little to placate members of the FPI, who have frequently rallied against him during his tenure as governor. Many among their numbers are enraged that a majority Muslim city is administered by a Christian.

While the outrage of Indonesia’s hard Islamic right has dominated Indonesia’s headlines in the run up to today’s much-hyped protest, voices from the moderate majority have sought to calm tensions.

Both of Indonesia’s largest moderate organizations: Muhammadiyah, and Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) — whose memberships number in the tens of millions — told their supporters not to attend the rally, although they did not prohibit it.

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Speaking to VOA, Asbit Panatagara, an NU activist, stressed that his organization is “committed to pluralism” and that the reaction to Ahok was overblown. Other moderate leaders have sought to underscore the ideal of a moderate, multicultural Indonesia.

Those who share this vision will be heartened by Ahok’s enduring popularity. The governor’s public intolerance for time-wasting bureaucrats has won him widespread support. His successes in improving public transport and flood defenses have also helped to boost his approval ratings to 69%, according to some local polls.

“I think for everyday Jakartans religious background is not really a big issue [in picking a governor],” Rendi Witular, editor of the Jakarta Post.

“What they believe is in the performance of the candidate himself, their credentials, and their vision, instead of religious sentiment.

“But there are several fringe radical groups who want to force this issue.”

Critics say that the central government, led by President Joko Widodo, has not done enough to face down these radical groups and that hatred and bigotry is being allowed to grow.

Sidney Jones, a longtime analyst of Islamic radicalism and terrorism in Southeast Asia, earlier this month blamed “spineless political leaders” for allowing extremism to foment.

“No one dares draw a line and recognize religiously-inspired incitement for what it is, let alone condemn it or take measures to stop it,” she said.

Jones also fears that growing conservatism in Indonesia’s political discourse is creating the conditions for resurgent Islamic terror.

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)