Indonesian President Joko Widodo has blamed the "political actors" of stoking tensions in the capital Jakarta after a huge rally against the city's Catholic governor turned violent. He announced on Saturday (5 November) to postpone his visit to Australia due to security situation following the clashes.
Tens of thousands of hard-line Muslims took to the streets demanding that Jakarta's governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama - the first ethnic Chinese to hold the position – be prosecuted claiming he insulted Islam's holy book, the Koran.
"Looking at the latest situation and condition in Indonesia that require the presence of the president, President Joko Widodo decided to postpone his scheduled state visit to Australia," Reuters quoted a statement from president's office.
Widodo also lashed out at "political actors" without taking any specific names, for inflaming the huge clashes, which broke out between security officials and protesters who refused to disperse.
The rally turned violent leaving one person dead and more than 100 injured as Indonesian police had to resort to tear gas and water cannons to subdue the protestors. Many of the injured were police officers, the country's national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar said in a press conference on Saturday (5 November).
Amar continued that 10 people were being interrogated for their alleged role in inciting violence during the anti-governor march. Around 15 people were also arrested for looting a shop in north Jakarta, although he said this incident was not directly involved with the clashes.
Three vehicles were burned and 18 damaged, he added. "This is an example of the shocking attacks by these anarchists."
Authorities in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation had braced for the protest and beefed up the security across Jakarta. They are reported to have anticipated the possibility of religious and racial tension erupting at the demonstration.
Police said the protest was initially attended by around 50,000 people, which suddenly swelled to about 150,000 and some protesters reportedly threw rocks at the police. However, by Friday evening (4 November), the protest fizzled out.
Ethnic Chinese make up about 1% of Indonesia's 250 million population. And governor Purnama claimed that the Muslim protesters were using a passage of the Koran to deceive people from supporting him when he goes to the polls in February 2017.