Thousands of people thronged the City Hall grounds in Jakarta this morning in a show of moral support and sympathy for outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, who has been sentenced to two years’ jail for blasphemy.
They gathered for about two hours from 6am and broke into Indonesian patriotic songs led by well-known musician, Addie MS.
Joining the crowd were Vice-Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat, who has been made acting governor from today following Ahok’s detention since yesterday, after the court passed the jail sentence on him.
Bernama found that many among the crowd who were clad in red, also carried banners and balloons bearing printed messages such as "Justice for Ahok" and cried out "Hidup Pak Ahok" (Long Live Ahok).
Yesterday, the court sentenced Ahok to two years’ jail after finding him guilty of insulting Islam in his campaign speech, by referring to the Al Maidah verse in the Quran when meeting voters on Pramuka Island in September last year.
Ahok, who failed to retain his governor post when he lost in the election last month, is supposed to end his service this October.
Online media reported that Ahok was first detained at Cipinang Prison after being brought out from the court but was transferred to the Mobile Police Brigade headquarters (Brimob), in Jakarta late last night.
East Jakarta police chief Andry Wibowo was quoted as saying that Ahok’s transfer to Brimob was on the request of the prison, for safety reasons.
Yesterday too, hundreds of Ahok’s supporters assembled peacefully and held lighted candles outside Cipinang Prison to lend moral support to Ahok and the crowd later dispersed when asked to do so by Djarot.