World Media

Jakarta's Christian governor jailed for blasphemy against Islam

Jakarta's Christian governor jailed for blasphemy against Islam

His government said on Monday it would take legal steps to disband Hizb ut-Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) because its activities were creating social tensions and threatening security.

Another judge, Abdul Rosyad, said the jail sentence was because Ahok had "caused anxiety and hurt Muslims" and had felt no guilt.

In April, prosecutors had called for the blasphemy counts to be dropped in exchange for a lesser charge of "spreading hate", but the judges appear to have ignored that recommendation.

The governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was "found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy", a judge declared Tuesday.

Photos quickly appeared online of Ahok, who still commands enormous popularity in Jakarta, the capital, being warmly greeted by prison staff. Ahok said he would appeal, but it was unclear if he would be released once that process is underway.

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As reported, Ahok, who is is ethnic Chinese and the first Christian in almost 50 years to govern Indonesia's capital, was found guilty of violating Indonesia's blasphemy laws during a speech to fishermen in September.

Photos quickly appeared online of Ahok, who still commands huge popularity in Jakarta, the capital, being warmly greeted by prison staff. Ahok said he would appeal, but it was unclear if he would be released once that process is underway.

Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the Guardian the verdict was "a sad day for Indonesia".

Ahok was then taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta, local media reported.

His once unassailable opinion poll lead shrank amid the controversy and he lost the race to lead Jakarta last month to a Muslim challenger, a result that fuelled fears of Indonesia's moderate brand of Islam coming under threat from increasingly influential radicals.

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He implied that Islamic leaders were trying to trick voters by using a verse in the Koran to argue that Muslims should not vote for a non-Muslim leader.

The controversial Chinese Christian politician was put on trial in December over accusations that he insulted Islam while campaigning for re-election. And the verdict is perceived as politically motivated.

Wayan Sudirta, a lawyer for Ahok, said there was "so much pressure" for Ahok to be imprisoned.

"We can understand but we cannot accept the verdict. Therefore we will appeal".

They staged regular large rallies calling for him to face trial. But others were alienated by Ahok's outspokenness and the demolition of slums that were home to Jakarta's poorest residents.

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