Thousands of conservative Muslims marched in Indonesia’s capital on Tuesday demanding that the government revoke a new law they say will cripple labour rights.
Authorities blocked streets leading to the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, where clashes between riot police and rock-throwing demonstrators, including workers and students, broke out last Thursday.
The protests spread and turned violent in some cities across the world’s most populous Muslim nation, but calm had largely returned to Jakarta over the past four days.
Waving black flags bearing the Islamic declaration of faith, several thousand demonstrators, many wearing white Islamic robes, filled a major thoroughfare.
The Job Creation Law approved by Parliament last week is expected to substantially change Indonesia’s labour system and natural resources management.
It amended 79 previous laws and is intended to improve bureaucratic efficiency as part of efforts by President Joko Widodo’s administration to attract more investment to the country.
The demonstrators say the law will hurt workers by reducing severance pay, removing restrictions on manual labour by foreign workers, increasing the use of outsourcing, and converting monthly salaries to hourly wages.
Protest organiser Shobri Lubis told the crowd, including members of the Islamic Defenders Front vigilante group, that they support workers and students in fighting for the rejection of the law.
“It’s undeniable that the Job Creation Law is more intended for foreign economic domination in Indonesia and not to side with local workers,” he said.
Protesters chanted “God is Great” and “We stand with workers” near the blocked roads.
Tuesday’s protest was organized by a conservative Muslim alliance that held mass protests in 2016 against Jakarta’s ethnic Chinese Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, that led to him being imprisoned for blasphemy.
Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, is eagerly courting foreign investment as a key driver of economic growth in a nation where nearly half the population of 270 million is younger than 30.