The North Jakarta District Court has found outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama guilty of blasphemy for suggesting that some people had abused a Quranic verse to block his re-election bid.
The panel of judges led by Dwiarso Budi Santiarso sentenced Ahok to two years in prison for his crime. “The defendant Ir. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama alias Ahok is proven guilty of committing blasphemy,” Dwiarso said.
Ahok, whose term ends in October, has said he will appeal the verdict.
Ahok was initially charged with blasphemy under Article 156a of the Criminal Code and with defaming clergymen under Article 156. The prosecutors, however, dropped the blasphemy charge in their sentence demand, saying there was no evidence that the governor had committed blasphemy.
The prosecutors, therefore, demanded that Ahok be sentenced to two years’ probation and one year in prison if he reoffended.
The blasphemy allegation against Ahok has divided the nation and emboldened radical Islamist groups who claim to speak on behalf of all Muslims. It was also instrumental in causing Ahok’s defeat in the April 19 gubernatorial election.
Ahok said in his speech in Thousand Islands regency in September last year that some people had been “deceived” by other people using Al-Maidah 51, a Quranic verse some clerics believe prohibits Muslims from electing a non-Muslim leader. – Callistasia Anggun Wijaya reports.