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Indonesia foils plot to exploit Muslim protest

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Indonesian police on Friday said they had detained eight people before dawn, thwarting a plot hatched to take advantage of a demonstration by tens of thousands of Muslims to lead an uprising against President Widodo’s government.

The detentions followed weeks of tension, during which Widodo said “political actors’’ had fanned violence at a Nov. 4 protest.

Meanwhile, the country’s police chief has warned that “certain groups’’ may try to occupy parliament during Friday’s rally.

The group had been under surveillance for at least three weeks, and the move against it came hours before the start of a rally in central Jakarta to protest against the city’s governor, a Christian accused of insulting the Quoran.

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Police Spokesman, Rafli Amar described the plan as attempted subversion of Widodo’s government, which had strong support from the military.

“The suspicion is that among other things there was a link to plans to attempt subversion, and to take advantage of conditions today.

“They had another agenda aside from prayers,’’ Amar said.

A sea of white-clad protesters surged around Jakarta’s National Monument on Friday.

Police estimated their number at about 150,000, many having come from towns and cities across the island of Java.

They chanted and carried banners demanding that the city’s governor, Basuki Purnama be jailed.

Purnama is being investigated over comments about his opponents’ use of the Quoran during political campaigning.

He, however, denies any wrongdoing, but has apologised for the remarks.

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