Strong solidarity among Muslims was apparent during the massive rally in Jakarta on Friday, December 2, 2016.
There was an endless flow of free food, snacks, fruits and drinks available in various spots along the streets in downtown Jakarta, which rally goers occupied during the peaceful rally known as the “212” against non-active Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaha Purnama, famously known as “Ahok”, that it seemed like an all-you-can-eat outdoor buffet.
The rally was staged to demand the arrest of Ahok over remarks he made which many Muslims perceived as an insult to Islam. Basuki has been named a suspect and is facing trial on blasphemy charges.
It was the third rally since he made comments during an official gubernatorial event in the Thousand Islands in September, in which he accused his critics of misusing the Koran to prevent him from being elected as governor in his own right. Basuki inherited the governorship from Jokowi in 2014 when Jokowi was elected president.
Protesters could choose from packets of rice with basic staple of grilled chicken, vegetables and sambal, Padang rice, fast food to bento, while mineral water was abundantly available to keep rally goers hydrated during what turned out to be a breezy and rainy day.
Near the traffic light in the Sarinah intersection where a police post was attacked with a deadly bomb in January, residents from a shariah property housing in Bekasi, West Java were handing out packs of rice to the dispersing crowd that overflowed to the intersection as far as one kilometer away from the rally’s ground zero in the National Monument park.
Our community members donated 1,500 bento and Padang rice packs, as well as 500 cups of mineral waters,” Arbi Ruswandono said as he unloaded the packed food from a van loaded with provision.
A few meters away in front of Sari Pan Pacific Hotel in MH Thamrin Street, a truck loaded with provision from Darunnajah Islamic boarding school in South Jakarta was parked and its volunteers put an open box of orange on the sidewalk for protesters to take and handed out the rice packets, snack boxes and bottled waters to protesters that passed by.
“We handed out 1,500 packs of rice and fried chicken. We also provided snack boxes and brought dozens of boxes of mineral waters in various sizes,” Suhenti, a volunteer from Darunnajah said.
In addition, they brought more than a hundred kilograms of orange and pear. Suhenti said it was the school, students’ parents and alumna who chipped in to purchase the provision. They also had an ambulance and a team of paramedics on standby.
Despite the rain, rally goers also enjoyed cincau ice, or green, grass jelly mixed with palm sugar and shredded ice that its seller was distributing for free.
“An anonymous donor came to earlier and paid me one million rupiah for all of my cart’s supply today to be distributed for free for the congregation,” Andri the cincau seller said while busy concocting the drinks for queuing, rain-soaked rally goers who just finished the mass Friday prayers under the rain.
He added that on a normal day, he would earn up to one and half million rupiah for selling in retail the whole supply of his cart.
“But this is fine, I also want to donate, to seek God’s favor,” he said.