JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo made clear he will not protect Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, who has been accused of insulting the Quran.
"I stress that, and the people need to know this, I will not protect Basuki Tjahaja Purnama because the legal process has already begun," Mr Widodo said on Tuesday (Nov 8) after meeting the leaders of Muhammadiyah, a major non-governmental Islamic organisation.
Mr Widodo added that the legal process against Ahok will be done in a transparent and assertive manner. He also urged the police not to bow to pressure from any groups or organisations.
Mr Widodo is seen as a close ally of Ahok, who worked as his deputy for about two years when Mr Widodo was governor of Jakarta.
Ahok, a Christian and the first ethnic Chinese to hold the post of Jakarta governor, has been the target of hardline Muslim groups who accuse him of insulting the Muslim holy book.
In September, Ahok told residents during a visit to Jakarta's Thousand Island regency not to be "fooled" by those who say it would be a sin for a Muslim to vote for a non-Muslim leader.
Referring to a verse from the Quran, Ahok urged voters not to be influenced by religious provocation. He has since apologised for his remarks.
On Monday, Ahok, who is contesting the Jakarta gubernatorial election next year, was questioned by police for nine hours about the alleged blasphemy.
The Indonesian government has said it will accelerate the case, and try to resolve it within two weeks.
If found guilty, Ahok could be jailed for up to five years, putting him out of the Jakarta gubernatorial race.
Tens of thousands of people from across Indonesia took to the streets of Jakarta last Friday, calling on authorities to prosecute him.
The demonstration outside the Presidential Palace, which was mostly peaceful during the day, turned violent towards the end, with protesters clashing with police. Police have arrested five members of the Association of Islamic Students (HMI) in connection with Friday's protest.