A court on Tuesday convicted and sentenced Jakarta’s Christian governor to two years in prison for blasphemy against Islam, even after the prosecution had dropped the charge, in a case that exposed the rising power of fundamentalism in Muslim-majority Indonesia.
North Jakarta District Court judges ordered Ahok sent to prison immediately, and Indonesia’s interior minister announced he was dismissing the governor at once and replacing him with Dep. Gov. Djarot Saiful Hidayat.
Hundreds of Ahok supporters protested late Tuesday outside the prison in Cipinang, in East Jakarta, where Ahok was initially sent. Outside the court venue, Ahok’s detractors declared the verdict too lenient.
“I want everyone to respect the legal process and the verdict handed down by the panel of judges,” President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in a statement to reporters in Papua province.
“We must also respect the steps that will be taken by Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to appeal,” he added. “The government cannot intervene in the judicial process.”
The ruling far exceeded the sentence recommended by the lead prosecutor, who had dropped the blasphemy charge during closing arguments on April 20, saying he could not prove that Ahok had intentionally insulted Islam. Public furor over the comments erupted after a videographer uploaded edited footage of the remarks on social media, he said.
Ali Mukartono recommended two years’ probation followed by one year in jail if Ahok committed a new offense.
The regional bureau of the U.N. Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights reacted with alarm over the verdict. “We are concerned by jail sentence for #Jakarta governor for alleged blasphemy against #Islam. We call on #Indonesia to review blasphemy law,” it said in a tweet.
Full story: BenarNews
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