Indonesian politician receives 2-year prison sentence for blasphemy

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, was hauled into court previous year to face trial for allegedly insulting Islam while campaigning for re-election in a case critics said was politically motivated.

The five-judge panel said Gov. Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was "convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy" and ordered his arrest.

Supporters of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama display balloons during a rally outside the court where his sentencing hearing is held in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

According to Reuters, Purnama is appealing the court's decision.

Outside the court, hundreds of Islamic radicals wearing white Muslim skullcaps celebrated as they heard about the jail sentence. 'He is the governor of Indonesia's largest city, an ally of the president.

Ahok, a Chinese-Christian, rose above his double-minority disadvantage to become the first ethnic Chinese Christian to run Indonesia's capital.

Nearly five months after the controversial case began, a panel of five judges from North Jakarta District Court handed down the decision on Tuesday, leaving his supporters stunned. However, the degree of religious and racial tolerance in Indonesia (and Jakarta specifically) is apparently too low. We understand the pressure surrounding this case, but we're disappointed.

"As a person who grew up in Islamic circles, it is not possible for me to insult Islam", he said, emphasising his respect for Islam.

THE two-year jail sentence for blasphemy handed to Jakarta's Christian-Chinese governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on Tuesday is a harbinger of worse things to come for Indonesia, Human Rights Watch's Andreas Harsono said.

He was taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta, said one of his lawyers, Ronny Talampessy. Governor Ahok will appeal the decision.

Television footage showed an armored police van arriving at the prison on Tuesday and journalists waiting for Ahok to emerge. "Markets see this court sentence as a set back in Indonesia's legal system, which could affect foreign investors' perception about the continuation of reform in the country", Reza said.

"What is most important is that we all believe in the legal mechanism to solve every problem and that is indeed how a democratic country resolves differences of views", he said.

The lead judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, said the trial was a purely criminal one and the court disagreed that there were political aspects to the case.

Ahok was sentenced to two years in prison, though prosecutors had previously sought a reduced sentence after the incumbent's loss in the capital's gubernatorial run-off election in April.

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