Jakarta’s Christian governor “Ahok” facing two years in prison for violating Indonesia’s blasphemy laws
Jakarta’s Christian governor has been sentenced to two years in prison for insulting Islam. Many see his trial as a test case for religious freedom laws in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, cited a passage from the Quran during his re-election campaign last year. Conservative Muslims took offense to his casual reference, spurred on by a video posted on social media that was edited to make Ahok’s comments seem more insulting. Hardline groups organized massive protests calling for his arrest, and Indonesian President Joko Widodo, promised that legal action would be taken.
Article 156a of Indonesia’s criminal code, also known as the “blasphemy law,” allows officials to prosecute anyone who says or does anything that has “the character of being at enmity with, abusing or staining a religion.”
Watchdog groups such as Amnesty International have spoken out against these laws and the verdict, arguing that they are only used to unfairly prosecute minorities.