Jakarta’s Christian Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, well known as Ahok, was found guilty of Blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to two years on Tuesday after a trail that was seen as a measure of religious tolerance in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
Ahok is an aide of present Indonesian president Joko Widodo and this guilty verdict puts the government under fire that works in favor or investors questioning the secular value of the country. Radical groups and Islamist group held mass demonstrations against Ahok during the elections that end up him losing the bid for another term as governor.
Amid thousands of supporters gathered outside the court on Tuesday, the head judge of the South Jakarta court, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, told Ahok was “found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment.”
“As part of a religious society, the defendant should be careful to not use words with negative connotations regarding the symbols of religions, including the religion of the defendant himself.” Purnama was taken to a prison in Cipinang, East Jakarta after the judgment. His supports wearing his signature red and blue check waited outside the prison. His Lawyer said that he would appeal against the verdict.
Thousands of police personnel were deployed across the city earlier today to curb potential clashes, but no immediate violence broke out yet after the verdict was read out. His lawyer though asked for a suspended one-year jail term for hate speech, the court ruled out two years while the maximum sentence for hate speech is four years and with blasphemy, it is five years.
Hardline Islamists groups claimed Ahok insulting the holy book during the re-election campaign back in September for which the case was filed against him for referencing a passage of the Quran in bad light. Apparently, he apologized for his remarks for using Quran in election campaign. He lost election bid to his Musilm rival Anies Baswedan in April and he should handover his position as governor to Baswedan in October.
Ahok reiterated that Baswedan tricked people in voting by using a verse in Quran. A video of his comments regarding the religious intolerance went viral, sparking a massive outrage in the country. The city saw thousands of protesters protesting against him last year. Hundreds of Hardline Islamists groups gathered at the court today shouting to offer maximum penalty to Ahok. When the verdict passed out, some shouted “God is greatest”.