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Foreign governments warn citizens about Indonesia protest

Associated Press Associated Press 4 days ago
Indonesian soldiers perform national flag -colored headbands during a military-sponsored interfaith rally held ahead of the planned Dec. 2 Muslim protest against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Thousands of Indonesians have joined interfaith rallies around the country organized by the military in an attempt to demonstrate national unity as religious and racial tensions divide the world’s largest Muslim nation. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim) © The Associated Press Indonesian soldiers perform national flag -colored headbands during a military-sponsored interfaith rally held ahead of the planned Dec. 2 Muslim protest against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016. Thousands of Indonesians have joined interfaith rallies around the country organized by the military in an attempt to demonstrate national unity as religious and racial tensions divide the world’s largest Muslim nation. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Foreign governments are warning citizens in Indonesia to stay away from central Jakarta ahead of a huge rally against the capital's minority Christian governor.

The United States, Japan and Australia issued advisories highlighting the possibility of Friday's protest turning violent or the risk extremists could stage an attack.

A related protest on Nov. 4 drew more than 100,000 people demanding the arrest of Gov. Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is being prosecuted for blasphemy, a criminal offense in Muslim-majority Indonesia. After nightfall, hard-liners clashed with police, with one death and dozens injured.

Security plans call for a heavy police and military presence and organizers have agreed to concentrate the rally around the national monument in the city to limit disruption.

Labor unions demanding wage hikes are also expected to join the protest, which police say should disperse in the early afternoon following Friday prayers.

Japan's foreign ministry said the rally could become a "rampage" and warned Japanese in Indonesia to stay away from Istiqlal Mosque, City Hall, the presidential palace and national monument, all of which are in close proximity.

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