Pulau Seribu Folks Defend Governor Ahok Against Blasphemy Allegations
At the latest hearing of Jakarta Governor Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama’s ongoing trial for alleged blasphemy, many witnesses were called on by the prosecution. The witnesses testified that they had seen Ahok make the alleged blasphemous reference to verse Al Maidah 51 of the Quran when he was in the Pulau Seribu district, addressing a group of citizens on Pramuka Island in late September.
Ahok and his lawyers noted, however, that none of the witnesses affiliated with Islamic hardliner organizations, including the Islamic Defenders Front ( FPI), were actually present at Pramuka Island in Pulau Seribu when the Jakarta governor made his speech – they only saw a video of the speech some time later.
In fact, most of those who filed the police reports against the governor were not actually in Pulau Seribu and did not actually attend the campaign where the governor made the speech.
Ahok and his lawyers explained that if he was actually guilty of blaspheming Islam, then those who were in the audience listening to his speech would have reacted immediately.
Twenty-one-year-old local resident Abdi told reporters at the Jakarta governor’s Menteng campaign headquarters, that if he witnessed Ahok insulting his religion, “I would have stabbed him [ Pak Ahok] right there.”
Abdi added that the citizens of the Pulau Seribu district, a Muslim-majority area, would not have stayed silent if Governor Ahok had in fact insulted Islam. He also stated that no one from Pulau Seribu had joined the anti-Ahok protests organized by the FPI and the other hard-line Islamic organizations.
Abdi and some other Pulau Seribu citizens were at the governor’s headquarters last week to show their support for Ahok. The governor’s Pulau Seribu supporters were confused as to why people were angered over Ahok’s speech.
Secretary General Habib Novel of the FPI’s Jakarta chapter and one of the leading anti-Ahok activists has argued in court that he had received calls and SMS messages from Pulau Seribu residents who told him about the speech and how they felt insulted by it.
Ahok noted, however, that Novel couldn’t provide evidence for that claim, as he said all call and SMS logs have already been deleted.