Conservative Indonesian Muslims hold big rally in Jakarta

Thousands of police had been put on standby but the rally was peaceful. (AFP)
Updated 02 December 2018
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Conservative Indonesian Muslims hold big rally in Jakarta

  • “We are proud because the Islam in Indonesia is Islam that unifies and is united and will maintain peace for everyone”
  • Hard-line groups were banned under the authoritarian regime of President Suharto, which ended in 1998, but they have gained ground in recent years

JAKARTAP: Tens of thousands of Indonesian Muslims held a rally in Jakarta on Sunday led by hard-line groups who had agitated to remove the city’s Christian governor, underscoring the growing influence of Islamist groups ahead of elections in 2019.
The rally was attended by former general, Prabowo Subianto, a nationalist with strong links to Islamists who is seeking to topple President Joko Widodo in next year’s polls after being narrowly defeated in 2014 during a bitterly fought campaign.
The crowd, many of whom were dressed in white and carrying Islamic flags, started gathering at Jakarta’s National Monument from around 3 a.m. to hold prayers.
“We are proud because the Islam in Indonesia is Islam that unifies and is united and will maintain peace for everyone,” Subianto said in a speech.
Thousands of police had been put on standby but the rally was peaceful.
Organizers call their movement a “reunion” for a series of rallies starting in late 2016 that targeted Jakarta governor Basuki TjaHajja Purnama, the first ethnic-Chinese Christian in the job, who was charged with insulting the Qur’an.
Religious and political tensions spiralled during this period and then governor Purnama, an ally of President Widodo, lost his bid for re-election to a Muslim rival and was later sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy.
Hard-line Islamist groups were banned under the authoritarian regime of President Suharto, which ended in 1998, but they have gained ground in recent years, emerging from the fringes of society in the world’s biggest Muslim-majority country.
Widodo, who is a popular moderate, has chosen a 75-year-old Islamic cleric, Ma’ruf Amin, as his running mate in next year’s election, sparking concern among some that he is pandering to conservative Muslims in a pluralist country with significant minority communities.


Trump ex-lawyer Cohen sentenced to 3 years prison on campaign charge

Michael Cohen
Updated 26 min 34 sec ago
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Trump ex-lawyer Cohen sentenced to 3 years prison on campaign charge

  • Cohen received 36 months for the payments and two months for the false statements to Congress
  • ‘It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light’

NEW YORK: Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, was sentenced to a total of three years in prison on Wednesday for his role in making illegal hush-money payments to women to help Trump’s 2016 election campaign and lying to Congress about a proposed Trump Tower project in Russia.
US District Judge William Pauley in Manhattan sentenced Cohen to 36 months for the payments, which violated campaign finance law, and to two months for the false statements to Congress. The two terms will run simultaneously. The judge set March 6 for Cohen’s voluntary surrender.
Cohen pleaded guilty to the campaign finance charge in August and to making false statements in November. As part of the sentence, the judge ordered Cohen to forfeit $500,000 and pay restitution of nearly $1.4 million for the campaign finance law violations.
Cohen, 52, had walked into court on Wednesday morning with his wife, son and daughter, amid a crowd of photographers and reporters.
The sentencing capped the stunning about-face of a lawyer who once said he would “take a bullet” for Trump but has now directly implicated the president in criminal conduct. The three-year sentence imposed by the judge was a modest reduction from the four to five years recommended under federal guidelines, but still underscored the seriousness of the charges.
“While Mr. Cohen pledges to help in further investigations that is not something the court can consider now,” Pauley said.
Federal prosecutors in New York charged that Cohen, just before the November 2016 election, paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 and helped arrange a $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal so the women would keep quiet about their past relationships with Trump, who is married. Trump denies having the affairs.
Prosecutors have said the payments violated campaign finance laws. Cohen told prosecutors the payments were directed by Trump, implicating the president in a possible campaign finance law violation.
Federal law requires that the contribution of “anything of value” to a campaign must be disclosed, and an individual donation cannot exceed $2,700.
“It was my own weakness and a blind loyalty to this man that led me to choose a path of darkness over light,” Cohen told the judge during the sentencing hearing.
“I felt it was my duty to cover up his own dirty deeds,” Cohen said, referring to Trump.
Cohen was sentenced on the separate charge of lying to Congress brought by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and Moscow. Cohen pleaded guilty to that charge last month.
“He came forward to offer evidence against the most powerful person in the country,” one of Cohen’s lawyers, Guy Petrillo, told the court on Wednesday, arguing for leniency. Cohen cooperated knowing “the president might shut down” Mueller’s investigation, Petrillo said.
Trump has denied any collusion with Russia and has accused Mueller’s team of pressuring his former aides to lie about him, his campaign and his business dealings. Russia has denied US allegations of interfering in the election to help Trump.
In an interview with Reuters on Tuesday, Trump denied the payments were campaign contributions. “If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did,” Trump said.
Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani has argued the hush payments cannot be considered campaign finance violations because they were made to protect Trump’s reputation and would have been made even if he had not been a presidential candidate.
In his guilty plea to Mueller’s charge, Cohen admitted he lied to Congress about the timeline for discussions about plans for real estate businessman Trump’s proposed skyscraper in Moscow. The project was never built.
Cohen said in written testimony to two congressional committees that the talks ended in January 2016, before the first electoral contests to select the Republican presidential nominee, when they actually continued until June 2016 after Trump clinched the Republican nomination.