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Christian Governor of Jakarta Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Blasphemy

Christian Governor of Jakarta Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Blasphemy

An Indonesian court has sentenced Jakarta’s governor, who is a Christian, to two years in prison on a charge of blasphemy.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, nicknamed Ahok, was charged for using a Quranic verse in his re-election campaign in September. Opponents of Ahok had used the same verse to argue that Muslims should not choose a non-Muslim to lead them. Ahok said his opponents had used the verse to trick people into voting against him.

According to, his speech that included the verse was posted online and soon went viral. Protests were started, including one that drew about half a million people.

Ahok lost the election in April and his term ends in October.

Said Judge Dwiarso Budi Santiaro of the sentencing: “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.”

Ahok is planning to appeal the sentence.

“Ahok's is the biggest blasphemy case in the history of Indonesia,” said Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “He is the governor of Indonesia's largest city, an ally of the president. If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?”

According to Harsono, more than 100 Indonesians have been convicted of blasphemy in the past 10 years. Few have been acquitted.


Photo courtesy: Simple Wikipedia

Publication date: May 9, 2017