Jakarta Governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who is better known as “Ahok” has been sentenced to two years imprisonment for blasphemy.
Ahok, who is a Christian, was accused of ‘insulting Islam’ in an online video posted just after he announced he would re-run as Governor in the 2017 election. This sparked nationwide demonstrations from November 2016 through to May 2017, calling for him to be charged with defamation of Islam.
In his comments Ahok said: “So it can be that in your subconscious that you, ladies and gentlemen, you can’t vote for me because you’ve been lied to, with Surat Almaidah 51 and the like. That’s your right. If you feel you can’t vote for me because you fear you’ll go to hell, because you’ve been lied to, no worries. That’s your personal call.”
Blasphemy laws have been used by both Muslims and non-Muslims in attempts to stifle freedom of expression and religion in Indonesia. Under the laws, people face up to five years in prison simply for peacefully exercising their right to religious freedom.