Around 80,000 people yesterday took part in a rally at the National Monument in central Jakarta to protest against US President Donald Trump's controversial decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
It was the biggest protest in Indonesia since Mr Trump's move on Dec 6 to reverse decades of United States policy. The turnout of the Defend Palestine rally had grown from 40,000 at around 8am local time (9am Singapore time) to 80,000, said Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono. The rally ended shortly after noon.
The protest was peaceful but rows of police officers stood guard behind coils of barbed wire outside the US Embassy just 100m away from the protest site. In response to a query from The Straits Times, Colonel Argo said 20,000 police officers as well as military and municipal government security troops were deployed to ensure security.
Yesterday's rally was organised by the Indonesian Ulema Council and several Islamic organisations.
"We urge all countries to reject the unilateral and illegal decision of President Donald Trump to make Jerusalem Israel's capital," Mr Anwar Abbas, secretary-general of the Indonesian Ulema Council, told the crowd, which included people from all walks of life. "We call on all Indonesian people to boycott US and Israel products in this country" if Mr Trump does not revoke his action, Mr Anwar said, reading from a petition due to be handed to the US Ambassador in Indonesia.
Many of the protesters were clad in white and waved Palestinian flags. One of the protesters, entrepreneur Lukman Abdul Jabar, 30, told The Straits Times: "We want Palestine to be freed. We support them. We demand that world leaders, including Jokowi, not only condemn but (also) prepare peace troops to ensure things are fixed."
Mr Trump's announcement has been met with angry protests around the world, including in Malaysia and Indonesia, which is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation.
On Dec 10, some 6,000 protesters gathered outside the US Embassy in Jakarta. The protest was led by Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) secretary-general Mustafa Kamal and its president Sohibul Iman. The PKS is an Islamic political party that is part of the opposition coalition in Indonesia.
On the same day, a separate group comprising activists from Masyarakat Relawan Indonesia, or the Indonesia Volunteer Society, gathered at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout - the heart of the main thoroughfare in central Jakarta that is closed every Sunday for Car-Free Day - to voice their opposition.
Last Friday, protesters again gathered outside the US Embassy in Jakarta, burning US flags and demanding that President Joko Widodo order the US Ambassador to leave the country. A protest was also held on the same day in Cirebon, West Java, where people gathered outside a main mosque to condemn Mr Trump's Jerusalem decision.
Number of police officers, military and municipal government security troops deployed to ensure security at yesterday's rally.
Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and declared the entire city as its capital in 1980, a move condemned by the international community to this day. The Palestinians hope that part of the city will be the capital of a future independent state.
Big rally in Jakarta against Trump's decision
Indonesian activists gathering for a protest against United States President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, at the National Monument in Jakarta yesterday. The turnout of some 80,000 makes the rally the biggest in Indonesia since Mr Trump's move on Dec 6 to reverse decades of US policy.