Jakarta, Christian governor Ahok to go on trial for blasphemy

November 16, 2016 by  
Filed under newsletter-asia

Indonesia, November 16, 2016: The Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Purnama Tjahaja “Ahok”, has been included on a police list of suspects in a blasphemy trial. It is the first breakthrough in the case has been dragging on for weeks. Chief detective, General Ari Dono Sukmanto, said that the inspectors have listened to 40 witnesses and collected “evidence” sufficient to open a case. Ahok was not arrested but cannot leave the country.

The governor, an ethnic Chinese, is accused of having “blasphemed Islam.” At a rally held in September, he would have quoted the 51st Surah Al Maidah (fifth chapter of the Koran), which advised Muslims not to vote for a leader of a different faith, asking the Islamic faithful not to “use” this in the wrong way. Islamists, moderates and radicals, have taken on the politician, who apologized and was “forgiven” by the moderate community.

On November 4, nearly 100 thousand radical Islamists took to the streets to demand the condemnation of Ahok and the withdrawal of his candidacy for governor in elections in February 2017. The protest, which resulted in violence, was infiltrated by political agitators with an aim to discredit the President Joko Widodo, an ally of the governor.

Later it was discovered that Buni Yani, a former journalist and professor of communications at the London School of Central Jakarta, manipulated the words spoken by Ahok in the rally, making them offensive to Islam and sparking protests. A petition calling for a trial against Yani has already collected 100 thousand signatures.

General Tito Karnavian said Ahok’s hearings will be broadcast live on national TV, so that citizens see what happens in cases of “defamation of religion” and are satisfied with the outcome of the investigation. If found guilty, Ahok could face up to five years in prison.

– asianews

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