Tuesday’s verdict of an Indonesian court, sentencing Jakarta’s outgoing governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as ‘Ahok’, to two years in prison for blasphemy, has received widespread condemnation globally as politicians, academics and rights groups express their concern about religious pluralism in Indonesia.
Ahok, the capital’s first Christian and ethnic governor since the 1960s, was charged with blasphemy after accusing his political opponents of using Qur’anic verses to stop Muslims from voting for him in the bid for re-election as Jakarta’s governor.
A day after he lost the election to his Muslim contender, Anies Rasiyd Baswedan, prosecutors downgraded the blasphemy charges against him and recommend that, if he was found guilty, Ahok would serve no prison time. They suggested two years of probation with a possible one-year jail term if he committed a crime during that period. The judge however decided a harsher punishment was called for as he told the court: “Mr Purnama was found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment.”