Indonesian police Wednesday named Jakarta Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama a suspect in a blasphemy case, following mass protests demanding his prosecution, but this will not bar him from seeking reelection in February, officials said.
Ahok, a Christian and first member of Indonesia’s ethnic Chinese minority elected as governor of the capital, had been questioned by police on more than one occasion over alleged anti-Muslim comments he had made in September. On Tuesday, national police held a 10-hour, closed-door hearing in Jakarta to determine whether they should declare Ahok a suspect, during which dozens of witnesses and experts testified.
“Even though it was not unanimous, we reached an agreement that this case should be processed in an open trial,” Gen. Ari Dono, the commander of the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department who presided over the hearing, told reporters at national police headquarters on Wednesday.
“Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, alias Ahok, has been named a suspect,” Ari said.
Ahok, who said he was still in the race for the gubernatorial election in February despite the announcement by police, is accused of blasphemous speech for telling attendees at an event in September that people might “fool them” into not voting for him by using the Quran’s Surah Al-Maida Verse 51 – which some interpret as prohibiting Muslims from having non-Muslim leaders.
Ahok apologized for the flap that he had caused, but some Muslim organizations reported him to the authorities after a video recording of the event went viral online.
Muslim anger over his remarks did not die down and led to mass demonstrations against the governor. On Nov. 4, an anti-Ahok demonstration that drew some 100,000 protesters to central Jakarta ended in violence as angry crowds attacked police barricades, set fires and looted stores.
Full story: BenarNews
Copyright ©2016, BenarNews. Used with the permission of BenarNews.