Blasphemy in Indonesia: Trial of Ahok Continues in 2017
Ahok's controversial blasphemy trial will continue. This is the decision of a panel of five judges that was announced on Tuesday (27/12) at the third session of the trial. At this session the judges of the Jakarta Court rejected defense arguments that the indictment contains inaccuracies, violates human rights and therefore should be annulled. The next session is scheduled for Tuesday 3 January 2017 at the Ministry of Agriculture building in South Jakarta. Blasphemy is an offense that carries a maximum prison sentence of five years in Indonesia.
The blasphemy trial against incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (better known by his nickname Ahok) is a controversial one, monitored by international media. It is a real test case for Indonesia in terms of religious freedom. Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, is accused of blasphemy after he said in a speech at Kepulauan Seribu (off the coast of Jakarta) in late September 2016 that the local population should not be too much influenced by those who use a specific Quranic verse (Surat Al-Ma'idah, verse 51) as a legitimization for prohibiting Muslims from accepting a non-Muslim leader.
Read more: Politics & Law in Indonesia: Ahok's Blasphemy Trial
A Facebook user, however, uploaded a manipulated video of this speech in which Ahok is seemingly telling his audience "not to be deceived by Surat Al-Ma'idah, verse 51". Hence the video made it look as if Ahok claims that the Quranic verse itself is misleading. This is a serious matter in Muslim-majority Indonesia where it is very easy to ignite religious and ethnic tensions. This Facebook user (named Buni Yani) is now a suspect for inciting religious and ethnic hatred for posting a truncated version of the video.
Over the past month three big demonstrations were organized in Jakarta by conservative Muslims who urged the government to arrest Ahok. It is assumed that the huge pressure that stemmed from these groups is what managed to make this trial possible. Although it is unlikely that Ahok will be found guilty by the Jakarta Court, there is some concern about to what extent these conservative Muslims influence the judicial branch in Indonesia.
Read more: Ethnic and Religious Violence in Indonesia
On Tuesday (27/12) some 3,000 security officers were deployed around the Jakarta Court building including veiled policewomen (a strategy to keep the conservative Muslim demonstrators a bit calm).
Read more: Radical Islam in Indonesia
Poll Indonesia Investments:
Do you think the court will find Ahok guilty of blasphemy?
Voting possible: -
- No, I don't think so (64.9%)
- Yes, I think so (22.8%)
- I don't know (12.3%)
Total amount of votes: 114