‘Ahok’ gets two years

New Straits Times - - Front Page -

AN In­done­sian judge says the Jakarta gover­nor was ‘found to have le­git­i­mately and con­vinc­ingly con­ducted a crim­i­nal act of blas­phemy’. Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo urges the peo­ple to re­spect the de­ci­sion of the court.

JAKARTA: Jakarta’s Chris­tian gover­nor was jailed for two years yes­ter­day af­ter be­ing found guilty of blas­phemy, in a shock de­ci­sion that has stoked con­cerns over ris­ing reli­gious in­tol­er­ance in the world’s most pop­u­lous Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity na­tion.

Is­lamic hard­lin­ers out­side the court here shouted “God is great­est!” as news came through that Ba­suki Tja­haja Pur­nama would be sent to prison for in­sult­ing Is­lam, a sur­pris­ingly harsh pun­ish­ment af­ter pros­e­cu­tors rec­om­mended only pro­ba­tion.

Pur­nama, Jakarta’s first nonMus­lim gover­nor for half a cen­tury and its first eth­nic Chi­nese leader, said he would ap­peal, as some of his sup­port­ers in court burst into tears.

He was trans­ferred to jail and au­thor­i­ties said his deputy would take over run­ning Jakarta for the fi­nal months of his term. Hun­dreds of sup­port­ers de­scended on the prison shout­ing “Free Ahok”, Pur­nama’s nick­name.

The 50-year-old was hauled to court last year to face trial on charges of in­sult­ing the Qu­ran while cam­paign­ing for re-elec­tion, af­ter the blas­phemy ac­cu­sa­tions sparked a se­ries of mass protests here, spear­headed by rad­i­cal groups.

The United Na­tions Of­fice of the High Com­mis­sioner for Hu­man Rights ex­pressed con­cern and urged In­done­sia to re­view its blas­phemy laws, while the Euro­pean Union called on Jakarta to up­hold its “long-stand­ing tra­di­tion of tol­er­ance and plu­ral­ism”.

Pres­i­dent Joko Wi­dodo, an ally of the gover­nor, urged peo­ple to re­spect the de­ci­sion of the court but added that “we must also re­spect the move by Pur­nama to file an ap­peal”. AFP

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