Hotli Simanjuntak, Ruslan Sangadji, and Djemi Amnifu, Lhokseumawe/Palu/Kupang – Local authorities in several regions have stepped up security measures to prevent conflicts or violence following the massive rally that turned violent in some locations in Jakarta last Friday.
In Lhokseumawe, Aceh, the police went into full alert after an object suspected of being a bomb was found at the door of Tirta Buddhist temple on Jl. Cut Mutia, Pusong, Banda Sakti district.
The discovery caused alarm among the residents of Lhokseumawe, which is one of the biggest cities in the predominantly-Muslim province. Witnesses said the item was left by an unidentified person.
The suspected bomb was believed to have been placed at the location before dawn, but was only discovered at around 8:30 a.m. local time by Aliong, 55, as he opened the door from inside the temple.
Local police deployed the bomb squad at about 10 a.m. and the device was made safe within half an hour. The team also swept the temple compound to make sure that no other device had been left at the site.
"The homemade bomb is thought to have been placed there between 5 and 6 am when it was still quiet," Lhokseumawe Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hendri Budiman said at the temple on Sunday.
He said the bomb could have been placed there to heighten sectarian tension in the city, and was aimed at causing division among the interfaith communities in the city and surrounding areas.
Relations in the city have largely been harmonious up to this point. "We call on local people to remain calm and not link this to interfaith conflict," Hendri said.
The temple is located next to the Huria Kristen Batak protestant church.
In Palu, Central Sulawesi, meanwhile, the police erected barbed wire along Jl. Sam Ratulangi due to growing security threats in the provincial capital.
Following Friday's massive rally in Jakarta, a number of Islamic organizations in Palu said they would also hold big demonstrations should the police fail to name Jakarta Governor, and gubernatorial candidate, Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama a blasphemy suspect.
"We could also occupy the DPRD [Central Sulawesi Legislative Council]," said Husen Alhabsyi, one of the organizations' coordinators.
Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Rudy Sufahriadi and local Army commander Col. M. Saleh Mustafa were quick to respond to the threat by inviting the organizations to come for a meeting at the police's provincial headquarters.
Rudy managed to calm the protesters after explaining that Ahok was still undergoing a legal process in Jakarta. "I hope all Muslims in Central Sulawesi can be patient," the police chief said.
In Kupang, the East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Ansor Youth Movement (GP Ansor), under the auspices of the largest Muslim organization in Indonesia Nahdlatul Ulama, has publicly expressed support for Ahok, in his candidacy as Jakarta governor and said the alleged blasphemy by Ahok should not be politicized or used to divide the nation.
"We will support and defend Ahok. Regarding the alleged blasphemy, let it be legally processed, especially as Ahok has already publicly apologized," NTT GP Ansor leader Abdul Muis told The Jakarta Post after attending Friday prayers.