Rallies must be held based on regulations: Minister

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin called on those who want to stage demonstrations on November 4 to exercise self-control and carry out the rallies based on regulations.

"Every citizen has the right to stage a rally, but the demonstration should be carried out based on regulations in force," the minister said in a written statement here on Wednesday.

Lukman asked the demonstrators to restrain from acts that adversely affect the essence or substance of the aspirations they are going to fight for.

The minister also asked the people to respect differences of opinion with regard to the planned November 4 rally. This is because there are differences of opinion between those who support the rallies and those who are opposed to them.

"There are differences among us, but we should exchange mutual respect and appreciation as brothers of a nation who exercise their respective rights," he said.

He said rallies were efforts to express aspirations and not a means of forcing people to accept them, let alone vandalizing public and social facilities. Anarchism in organizing a rally is against the law.

"Therefore, I call on those who want to take to the street to exercise their rights without violating the law. They should also keep watch of those who are trying to take advantage of the rallies for their hidden agenda," the minister said.

Earlier on Monday, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said democracy was not a freedom to force ones will on others and not a right to destroy.

"Demonstration is a democratic right of every citizen, but it should not be used to force ones will on others and cause destruction," Jokowi said.

Jokowi referred to the demonstration planned by a number of Islamic organizations against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Ahok) for alleged blasphemy concerning the Koran.

The president said the government would guarantee and protect the right to speech, but public order was foremost.

"I have asked the security agencies to be on the alert and carry out their duty professionally to deal with any anarchists," he warned.

The state police asked the people to be optimistic about the religious demonstration

"Let us think positively. Please dont think there is something bad," polices chief spokesman Inspector General. Boy Rafli Amar said on Sunday.

"Dont think that we (police) have to act repressively," Boy said, adding that police have a permanent procedure in dealing with demonstrations, in line with the police chief regulation No. 16 of 2006, stressing on persuasive approaches.

He said demonstration was a form of expression to convey opinions that police should guarantee.

In this context, the demonstration leaders are required to report their plan, number of participants and attributes to the police.

There are fears that extremists from all over the country would flock to the capital city to take advantage of the situation to create instability for hidden targets.

Earlier, the chairman of the countrys largest non-political Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) Said Aqil Siraj said he feared that the planned action, apart from election issue, had other targets.

Aqil Siraj said NU would not allow its members to take part in the demonstration or the use of NU attributes in the rally.

"I forbid the members from taking part in the demonstration," he said, adding that NU elements such as GP Anshor and PMII are not allowed to use NU attributes if they took part in the demonstration.

He also warned the demonstrators not to turn anarchic and disrupt the national stability that would only hurt the people in general.(*)