The organizers of an annual rally by Islamist groups is adamant that this year's edition will go ahead in Jakarta, even if authorities don't issue a permit for mass gathering required for the event.
Dubbed the "reunion" of the 212 mass rally, the annual event celebrates the anniversary of the Dec. 2, 2016 (which is why it is referred to as the 212 protest) massive hardliner-led protest against former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for his trumped-up and heavily politicized charges of blasphemy against Islam.
Citing COVID-19 precaution, the Jakarta Metro Police has yet to issue a mass gathering permit for the rally, which organizers are hoping could be held from 4am to 11am on Thursday, Dec. 2 at the National Monument (Monas) and surrounding areas in Central Jakarta.
"We are still trying to meet requirements so [the Jakarta Metro Police] so the permit is issued. If not, then we will change the concept [of the rally] into a peaceful rally," 212 reunion organizing committee head Eka Jaya said.
It's unclear how much more peaceful a 212 rally could get, as previous gatherings have been peaceful in nature, involving mass prayer, sermons, and clean up of the area.
If the rally goes ahead, a notable absentee would be Rizieq Shihab, the founder of the hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and leader of the 212 movement, who is serving four years in prison for creating public unrest by lying about the result of his COVID-19 swab test.
Rizieq would, at least, be there in spirit, as he has reportedly called on his followers to "flood" Monas and challenge any attempts to restrict the mass gathering.