Tearful Jakarta governor denies insulting Quran in blasphemy trial

By Kanupriya Kapoor | Reuters

A tearful governor of Jakarta denied on Tuesday he had intended to insult the Koran at the start of his blasphemy trial in the Indonesian capital, which is seen as a test of religious freedom in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Around 100 Muslim protesters calling for the jailing of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama chanted “God is great” outside the court, while supporters of the ethnic Chinese Christian sang the national anthem.

A cordon of police stood guard outside the court after Muslims, led by hardliners, took to the streets in December and November, to call for Purnama’s arrest and to urge voters not to re-elect him in February.

The rallies, with over 150,000 participants each, were the biggest Jakarta has seen in nearly two decades.