Thousands in Indonesia call for jailing of Christian governor

Protests come after Indonesian prosecutors recommended a one-year suspended jail sentence in the blasphemy trial of Jakarta’s Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama.

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

Thousands took to the street in a protest against Jakarta's Christian Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama in Jakarta, Indonesia, Friday, May 5, 2017.

Thousands of demonstrators on Friday took to the streets of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, calling for the maximum jail term for the city’s Christian governor who is facing blasphemy charges.

Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama was accused of blasphemy last year when a video surfaced of him telling voters they were being deceived if they believed a specific verse in the Quran that prohibited Muslims from electing a non-Muslim as a leader.

The protests came after Indonesian prosecutors recommended a one-year suspended jail sentence in his trial.

"We are here because we are disappointed with prosecutors who were blind and deaf to the aspirations of Muslims," said Bahruddin Rabbani, an Islamic boarding school teacher from Banten, a neighbouring province of Jakarta.

Some of the protesters held flags, banners, and placards that said "Justice must be upheld" and "Ahok, the blasphemer of Islam, must be jailed."

The case is seen as a test for Muslim-majority nation's religious tolerance as the verdict from the five-judge panel is expected on Tuesday.

Prosecutors last month recommended a two-year suspended prison sentence for Purnama. But the relatively light sentencing demand was made a day after Purnama was defeated in the second round of the Jakarta governor election that was won by his Muslim opponent Anies Baswedan.

Purnama's term as governor ends in October.

The maximum penalty for blasphemy in Muslim-majority Indonesia is five years in prison.

TRTWorld and agencies