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Jakarta governor awaits blasphemy decision

AAP logoAAP 15/11/2016 Lauren Farrow and Heru Rahadi

As Jakarta's governor awaits a decision on whether he will face an inquiry over allegations of blasphemy, Indonesian police say they are "ready" for any potential backlash from hardline Muslim groups.

It has been just over a week since more than 150,000 people were estimated to have descended on the capital on November 4, demanding the jailing of Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok.

Spearheaded by the hardline Muslim group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) they claimed Ahok had committed blasphemy when referring to a Koranic verse during a speech at the end of September.

Ahok has since been at the centre of a police investigation over allegations of blasphemy, undergoing hours of interrogation last week.

On Tuesday, several experts were also questioned by police - put forward both by Ahok and the FPI.

They included linguistic, criminal and religious experts, national police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters.

It is expected police will announce on Wednesday afternoon (local time) whether Ahok will face a further inquiry or be told he has no case to answer to.

Mr Boy said "we are ready" if further protests break out.

President Joko Widodo, meanwhile, continues to call for calm and hose down speculation of further protests erupting.

Ahok was deputy to Mr Widodo when the latter was governor of Jakarta and took over the post when he was sworn is as president in 2014.

Under increasing pressure, Mr Widodo has issued repeated assurances he will not protect Ahok or intervene in the investigation.

"We want to remind everyone that this country is one of diverse ethnicities, religions, races and languages," he said on Tuesday.

Ahok, meanwhile has continued to campaign with supporters taking to his Facebook page to offer support.

"We love you. Our prayers are with you," supporter Winda Mulyani Arum wrote.

"Indonesia needs you," Suzan Hanura said.

A survey of 400 people conducted in October by Jakarta-based Populi Centre found that 58.8 per cent of respondents didn't mind what religion their governor belonged to.

"Voters in Jakarta are more accepting of a difference in ethnicity and race," researcher Nona Evita told AAP.

Topping the list of priorities for voters was someone who was free from corruption at 35.8 per cent, followed by disciplined at 23 per cent. Religion came in fourth at 5.2 per cent.

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