Police Chief Tito Karnavian has said that about AU$7.65 million was spent on security for the rallies to “defend Islam” on 4 November and 2 December. But as Ihsan Ali-Fauzi writes, these material costs are only part of the picture. Of far greater significance is that the protests have eroded the foundations of democracy and undermined the influence of “moderate” Muslim leaders.

What is the political and religious significance of the massive protest to “defend Islam” in Central Jakarta on 2 December? Does the huge turnout indicate a hardening of mainstream Muslim attitudes in Indonesia? Associate Professor Greg Fealy presents a comprehensive analysis of the events of 2 December and their consequences for Indonesian democracy.

Professor Tim Lindsey examines the blasphemy allegations against Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama. He writes that the case reveals two problems at the heart of Indonesian democracy: the rise of religious intolerance among Indonesia’s Muslim majority and the manipulation of that intolerance by the small group of elite politicians who dominate Indonesian politics.

Police declared Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok, a suspect for blasphemy last week, following major protests from hard-line religious groups. How has the 1965 Blasphemy Law been used in democratic Indonesia? What type of behaviour is typically deemed blasphemous? Is Ahok likely to receive a fair trial? We spoke to Dr Melissa Crouch, who has published widely on the Blasphemy Law, about these questions and more.

Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s time as leader has been marked by urban evictions on an unprecedented scale. Some 325 locations have been slated for eviction by the end of 2016, in the months approaching the 2017 governor’s elections. Dr Ian Wilson examines how urban poor groups, residents and their allies are mobilising and networking in response to the forced removals.

Anti-Chinese sentiment has deep roots in Indonesian society but there is a widespread perception that it has become worse over recent years, along with the rise of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok. Dr Robertus Robet writes that as Ahok’s opponents have struggled to formulate effective criticism against him, they have resorted to unsophisticated appeals to primordial concerns.