Islamist who ignited anti-Ahok fury jailed
An Indonesian court handed a 1½-year prison sentence to an Islamist whose editing of a speech by former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama led to the ethnic Chinese Christian’s jailing for blasphemy.
A panel five of judges ruled Yani was guilty of inciting ethnic, religious, racial and class tension when his editing of Ahok’s speech made the then governor’s comment about a Koranic verse appear worse than it really was.
After the sentence, Buni got up, punched a fist into the air and shouted “Allah is great”.
His lawyer, Aldwin Rahadian, said his client would appeal his conviction and sentence.
Earlier Buni said the case against him was a sham. “I have taken the most sacred of oaths in Islam that I have never edited a video. If anyone accuses me of such and if anyone convicts me of such may they feel God’s wrath,” he told the court to the applause of his supporters.
The panel said the controversy about Ahok’s remarks were sparked in October last year when Yani uploaded the video to his Facebook account with his inflammatory captions, triggering mass protests by Islamists.
“There was no controversy when the actual speech was made. Controversy only began when the Facebook post posted by the defendant Buni Yani went viral online,” the judges said.
In lighthearted comments in September last year, Ahok had challenged a religious edict from conservative clerics that the Koran forbade Muslims from voting for non-Muslims.
Yesterday’s ruling seemed at odds with the former governor’s conviction and sentence to two years’ jail by another court in May, which argues that even without Yani’s editing, Ahok had blasphemed by questioning the verse’s interpretation.
Police deployed at least 1000 officers to safeguard yesterday’s proceedings with armoured vehicles stationed and barbedwired fences erected in front of the makeshift courthouse in the city of Bandung, 150km east of Jakarta.
Before the blasphemy allegations, Ahok was the overwhelming favourite for reelection, due to his efforts to reform Jakarta’s corruptionplagued bureaucracy.
Ahok was defeated in the second round of the Jakarta election in April by Muslim candidate Anies Baswedan, who has been accused of playing up his Muslim credentials and pandering to hard line Islamists to win the election.