Fake news and hoaxes tend to spread rapidly in the wake of any chaotic event, and the riots that took place in Jakarta last night (and continued into the morning in some parts of the capital) have been no exception.
One of the conspiracy theories being spread on social media, by supporters of Prabowo Subianto and those sympathetic to the rioters, is that police officers chased and even shot protestors inside of mosques.
Another conspiracy theory is that some of the police officers that clashed with rioters were actually secretly Chinese soldiers (which is much in-line with the anti-Chinese paranoia among those opposed to President Joko Widodo).
This tweet, featuring a video supposedly showing a mosque under siege by police (but actually showing nothing of the sort) is an example of both. The caption says: "Chinese people disguise as Brimob (Mobile Police officers) and shooting Indonesian people who are worshiping, really savage"
Orang cina nyamar jadi Brimob dan tembak rakyat indonesia yang sedang beribadah sungguh biadab #Biadab #PakPolisi #saveindonesia pic.twitter.com/uZF4cmjhfk – Luthfi (@mhmdlthfii) May 22, 2019
In the video, a voice can be heard yelling hysterically that the Al Makmur in Tanah Abang is being destroyed by savage police officers, although nothing of the sort can be seen.
Addressing misinformation about last night's riots, Jakarta Police spokesperson Argo Yuwono denied that police had entered any mosques in pursuit of protesters.
"Then there is the issue of security personnel entering mosques chasing after protesters, that is not true," Argo said today as quoted by Detik.
Argo went on to say that the provocateurs behind last night riots were different from the protesters that demonstrated against the election results peacefully during the day.
This morning, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan confirmed that at least six people died during the riots last night and about 200 were injured.
Police have not made a similar denial regarding the secret use of Chinese soldiers, presumably because it's the kind of ridiculous hoax that shouldn't require a denial. Except that, being ridiculous has never stopped some people from believing in such conspiracy theories – particularly racists.
Update 12:40pm – Police have now responded to the secret Chinese police hoax, with National Police spokesman M Iqbal saying: "There are many photos of members of the Indonesian National Police troops from across the country that are sipit (narrow-eyed.) If you look at me, my eyes are sipit juga. This is not true, we deny it. The officers of the Indonesian Mobile Brigade are all Indonesian citizens."