Christian governor of Jakarta jailed for blasphemy

A court in Indonesia found Jakarta's governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama guilty of blasphemy against Islam on Tuesday.

Mr Purnama, a Christian in Muslim-majority Indonesia, has denied blasphemy and plans to appeal.

Ahok was detained immediately after the verdict and taken to Cipinang detention facility in East Jakarta.

The court's decision comes as a surprise to many, given prosecutors had only called for downgraded charges and the much lighter punishment of a year's suspended sentence on charges of hate speech.

Head judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto told the court 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".

The verdict was met with strong protest.

Officials said thousands of police will be deployed in the capital in case clashes break out between supporters of incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama and hardline Islamists who have demanded he be sacked and jailed over allegations he insulted the Islamic holy book, the Koran.

Around 15,000 security personnel from the police and military are providing security at the scene, with riot police and armoured vehicles separating the rival groups.

"Balloons and flowers will be useless", the post added, referring to a recent outpouring of sympathy from supporters of the embattled governor after he lost the April election. Some hugged each other.

"Ahok is already perceived as a clean and reformist politician". But a short distance away, the atmosphere among the governor's critics - a coalition of Islamic groups - was one of anger.

In Indonesia blasphemy cases always lead to prison sentences (we are not aware of a case in which the defendant was acquitted).




The battle is far from over.

Ahok has indicated that he will appeal the court's decision. They have instead sentenced him to two years in jail.

"It will make it hard to hold speeches", Al Jazeera's Vaessen said.

The trial against Ahok was encouraged by Islamist radicals, led by the Islamic Defenders Front organisation, who were against a non-Muslim being in charge of Jakarta, and which organised mass protests against him in October and November.

They staged regular large rallies calling for him to face trial, with some extremists even calling for him to be executed.

In a statement issued through the Cabinet Secretariat website, President Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, urged all Indonesians to respect the law, saying the government was unable to intervene.

Purnama is the first ethnic Chinese Christian to govern the Indonesian capital.

His political success was also seen as a significant development given the violent anti-Chinese riots that occurred in the city in 1998.

But the controversy overshadowed scheduled elections last month. In the 2017 Jakarta gubernatorial election, Ahok was defeated in the second, and final, round by Anies Baswedan, while Ahok had been comfortably leading the opinion polls prior to the emergence of the "hate-speech video".

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country.

Related news:

Hot News

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top U.S. adds sanctions on North Korea
May 10, 2017 - 04:01
North Korea on Friday accused the Central Intelligence Agency and South Korea of plotting to assassinate its leader, Kim Jong-Un. It remains to be seen whether the pressure will produce a different North Korea approach to USA -related negotiations.

INTERNATIONAL: Prince Philip to step away from public duties
May 10, 2017 - 04:00
The meeting was called somewhat last minute, leading many to fear that some actual emergency was taking place at the palace. Like her husband, Queen Elizabeth has gradually cut back her workload in recent years as they go into their nineties.

Labour thinks it can win back seats in Glasgow from SNP
May 10, 2017 - 03:59
Labour's only Scottish MP in the last Parliament, Ian Murray, also looks poised to lose his Edinburgh South seat to the Tories. And now the Tories have older people in their sights too - as they gear up to end the pensions triple lock.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Indian and Pakistani Army trade fire on LoC in Jammu and Kashmir
May 10, 2017 - 03:58
The bunker was destroyed less the 60 seconds, and Indian soldiers can be heard saying that the target had been hit successfully. Major Gaurav Arya, a retired Army veteran said the attack was carried out by a Sikh Regiment unit.

Tunnel with nuclear waste collapses in Washington state
May 10, 2017 - 03:57
Ten years ago, some press reports stated, the plant contained two-thirds of the high-level radioactive waste in the United States. Hanford, which is roughly half the size of Rhode Island, spent decades making plutonium for the nation's nuclear weapons arsenal.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Bouchard stuns Sharapova to set up Kerber clash, Pliskova out
May 10, 2017 - 03:54
The Canadian came through a thrilling encounter with Sharapova, winning 7-5 2-6 6-4 after nearly three hours on court. Neither player was prepared to give ground in the decider as Sharapova survived five break points in the fifth game.

Emmanuel Macron wins French presidential election in landslide
May 09, 2017 - 01:06
Emmanuel Macron says he would formalize the job of first lady if he wins the election, and says "she has her word to say in this". She also wanted to swap the Euro for the French franc, expel all illegal immigrants and close "extremist" mosques.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Death sentences upheld after brutal India gang rape
May 09, 2017 - 00:59
The 23-year-old physiotherapy intern succumbed to injuries and her rape case was something that got the tag- "rarest of the rare". Their daughter, too, will now rest in peace, Mr Singh, and his wife Asha Devi , told Press Trust of India after the judgment.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top RGV and KRK slams Sridevi for rejecting Baahubali 2
May 09, 2017 - 00:45
It is said that the charming Ramya Krishna has charged Rs 2.5 crore for the same role and was immediately on board for the role. The film, which is having a historic run at the box office, is declared as the biggest film of the Indian cinema so far.

Syria fighting eases as safe zones plan begins
May 09, 2017 - 00:42
The U.S. and Russian Federation signed the memorandum in 2015 when Russian Federation began its air operations in the country. But he stressed Russia's air force would continue striking militants from the Islamic State (IS) group elsewhere in Syria.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Trump to announce federal court nominees
May 09, 2017 - 00:34
But while a revised ban was later released, that too was blocked by the courts. It would take congressional action to break up the 9th U.S.

Thomas scores 53, Celtics beat Wizards 129-119 in OT
May 09, 2017 - 00:27
Kevin Durant added 15 points on an uncharacteristically cold shooting night at 6 for 14 and also five rebounds and five assists. Utah missed its initial six shots and fell behind 9-0 before Gobert's three-point play at the 7:48 mark of the first.

Inter 'ready to offer' Chelsea boss Antonio Conte £10m salary
May 09, 2017 - 00:18
Rudiger has also been linked with Chelsea in the past, but picked up a serious injury in the build-up to Euro 2016. Chelsea boss Antonio Conte is eyeing a £70million raid of Serie A giants Roma, according to reports.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Family want officer who shot black teen charged with crime
May 09, 2017 - 00:12
The family later said that while they are grateful that Oliver has been fired, "there remains a long road ahead". The family has called for murder charges to be brought against Oliver.

isis-killer-beheading-video-story-top Aric Almirola wins Xfinity Series race at Talladega
May 09, 2017 - 00:11
Note: There were 28 lead changes among 14 drivers in a highly competitive race . Almirola took the lead with four laps to go.