Jakarta’s governor has been jailed for two years for blasphemy after insulting Islam while campaigning for re-election.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, stood trial after a series of major protests against Ahok in the capital of the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country that drew hundreds of thousands onto the streets.
His once unassailable opinion poll lead shrank amid the controversy and he lost the race to lead Jakarta last month ,
As judges at the Jakarta court started recapping the evidence presented in the trial ahead of the verdict, hundreds of demonstrators protested against Purnama outside the building Tuesday. “I’m here because I want to defend my religion — Ahok has insulted it, he must be jailed,” Ari, a 35-year-old who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told AFP.
A group of the governor’s supporters staged a rival rally.
Blasphemy carries a maximum jail term of five years in Indonesia. But there is a chance Ahok could escape jail after prosecutors last month recommended he be punished with only two years probation, with a possible one-year jail term if he commits a crime during that period.
The controversy began in September when the former governor, known for his outspoken style, outraged Muslims when he controversially quoted a passage from the Quran during his re-election campaign. He insinuated that the Qur'anic verse which implied that Muslim can vote for Christans was false and was been used to trick people into voting against him.
An edited version of his speech went viral online, sparking outrage. Before the blasphemy controversy erupted, Purnama enjoyed a large lead in opinion polls due to his determination to clean up traffic-clogged Jakarta.