Indonesian President Joko Jokowi Widodo has embarked on heightened communications with political and Muslim leaders to strengthen his government's stability amid threats of more mass rallies by conservative Muslims demanding the arrest and prosecution of Jakarta Governor Basuki Ahok Tjahaja Purnama for alleged blasphemy, the Jakarta Post Online reported on Thursday.
The president appeared to be at ease on Wednesday, calling the planned protests on December 2 as the noise of democracy.
Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab announced on Wednesday that the FPI along with other conservative Muslim groups united in the National Movement to Safeguard the Indonesian Ulema Council's Fatwa (GNPF-MUI) would go ahead with its rally plans on December 2 to demand the government arrest Ahok for alleged blasphemy.
Ahead of the threatened protest, President Jokowi publicly met several influential figures, putting on display the stable support of his government.
Last week, he met with Gerindra party chairman Prabowo Subianto, signaling the possibility of new terms between the former rivals who competed each other in the 2014 presidential election.
On Monday, he met with former president and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle chairwoman Megawatti Soekarnoputri and later United Development Party chairman Romahurmuziy on Tuesday to discuss various political issues.
The country's largest Muslim organizations, the Muhammadiyah and Nahdlatul Ulama, have denounced the rallies and called on Muslims to refrain from joining the rallies.
Security forces have been on high alert of any planned rallies. The Jakarta police have taken a tough stance, having issued a circular to remind people that an act of treason could result in death penalty.
In a move to ensure that everyone is aware of the law, the police plan to drop around 50,000 copies of the circulars from a helicopter.
Beyond the capital, pressure and insults from conservative Muslim groups allegedly wishing to topple Jokowi have sparked public anger in a number of regions supporting the president in Central Java.
Source: Thai Public Broadcasting Service (Thai PBS)