Thousands of Islamists march in Jakarta ahead of elections

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Around 100,000 people marched in Indonesia's capital Sunday to mark two years since a demonstration that led to the fall of Jakarta's Christian ex-governor, as presidential candidates seek to rally support ahead of next year's general election. Former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was voted out of office and later jailed for two years for blasphemy following the 2016 protests, in a case seen as an example of rising religious intolerance in Muslim-majority Indonesia. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, has seen its reputation for pluralism eroded by a surge in attacks on minorities. Analysts say identity politics and rising intolerance are likely to feature prominently -- along with the economy -- in campaigning for next April's general election across the sprawling Southeast Asian archipelago. On Sunday, some 100,000 people joined the peaceful rally, with 23,000 officers securing the event, Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told AFP. The demonstrators -- many dressed in white and carrying Islamic flags -- gathered at the National Monument, where former general and presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto spoke. Subianto supported the rally that led to Purnama's ouster in December 2016, and analysts say Sunday's rally may have been politically motivated to boost his chance of winning the presidential elections set for April. He will face President Joko Widodo, who has chosen conservative cleric Ma'ruf Amin as his vice presidential candidate, a move analysts think will bolster the president's Islamic credentials. Widodo also supported the 2016 rally, known as "212 demonstration" after the date when it was held -- the second of December.

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