Shahin Olakara is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Shahin Olakara is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Jakarta governor Ahok is found guilty of blasphemy in court.

The Chinese-origin Christian governor of Jakarta has been sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of having committed blasphemy by an Indonesian court. The court found Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, guilty of having committed blasphemy after he quoted a verse from the Quran against his opponent who stood against him for elections.

Purnama had alleged his opponent had misquoted the Quran to incite hatred against him. Muslim fundamentalists across Indonesia quickly stood up to decry Purnama and claimed he had committed blasphemy against the Holy Book. A clearly edited video went viral throughout the country, showing him as having spoken in a demeaning manner towards Islam, which was enough evidence for the Court to consider him a criminal. Moreover, as a Christian, perhaps his accusers may not have seen any reason to believe his side of the story.

Following this, fundamental Muslims across the country came together protesting against Purnama, and demanding the most severe of punishments to be meted out to him, amidst chants of “God is greatest”.

Judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto said the court had found Ahok had legitimately and ‘convincingly’ committed an act of blasphemy against Islam. Abdul Rosyad, another judge, supported the decision because he claimed Ahok did not seem to feel guilty for causing ‘anxiety’ and ‘hurt’ to all Muslims. Following the Court’s judgment, Ahok was escorted to a prison in Eastern Jakarta in an armored van.

Jakarta is now seeing protests by two groups of people, one being those who support the governor and condemn the Court’s decision to punish him without any genuine cause. The other group is of fundamental Muslims who feel the punishment Ahok has been given is too light. The governor’s supporters have organized peace rallies and candlelight marches to express their support for him.

Indonesia, the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world, has been traditionally known for its open-mindedness. However, the case of Ahok seems to tell a disturbing story of how the nation is slowly moving towards radicalization. The video of the governor’s speech was edited, but it was still accepted by Indonesians as proof of his crime, confirming the movement to radicalization. Widespread anti-LGBT protests last year in Indonesia were yet another sign of the alarming rise of fundamentalism in the country.

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