Prosecutors Wanted Probation. Christian Governor Gets Prison

Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama gets 2 years for blasphemy in Muslim-majority country
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 9, 2017 1:03 AM CDT
Christian Governor in Indonesia Gets 2 Years for Blasphemy
Muslim protesters shout slogans outside the court in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Tuesday.   (Achmad Ibrahim)

An Indonesian court sentenced the minority Christian governor of Jakarta to two years in prison on Tuesday for blaspheming the Koran, a jarring ruling that undermines the reputation of the world's largest Muslim nation for practicing a moderate form of Islam. In announcing its decision, the five-judge panel said Gov. Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was "convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy" and ordered his arrest, the AP reports. He was taken to Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta. Photos quickly appeared online of Ahok, who still commands immense popularity in Jakarta, the capital, being warmly greeted by prison staff. Ahok says he'll appeal, but it's unclear whether he'll be released during the process.

The accusation of blasphemy engulfed Ahok in September after a video surfaced of him telling voters they were being deceived if they believed a specific verse in the Koran prohibited Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim leader. Hard-line Islamic groups opposed to having a non-Muslim leader for the city capitalized on the trial to draw hundreds of thousands to anti-Ahok protests in Jakarta. The two-year prison sentence was a surprise outcome after prosecutors had recommended two years of probation. (In Ireland, Stephen Fry is being investigated for alleged blasphemy.)

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