The Jakarta Post
Human rights group Amnesty International has said a Jakarta district court’s decision to convict outgoing Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama of blasphemy will tarnish Indonesia’s reputation as a tolerant nation.
"This verdict demonstrates the inherent injustice of Indonesia's Blasphemy Law, which should be repealed immediately," Champa Patel, Amnesty International's director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement on Tuesday.
The North Jakarta District Court found Ahok guilty of blasphemy for saying that some people “had been deceived” by other people “using Al-Maidah 51,” a Quranic verse that some believe prohibit Muslims from electing a non-Muslim leader.
"Despite protests of his innocence and evidence that his words were manipulated for political purposes, he has been sentenced to two years in prison. The verdict will tarnish Indonesia's reputation as a tolerant nation."
Amnesty International highlighted the fact that the prosecutors had dropped the blasphemy charge against Ahok in their sentence demand, but the panel of judges decided to reinstate the charge in their verdict.
According to the group’s data, the 1965 Blasphemy Law was only used against 10 individuals under former president Soeharto, who stepped down in 1998. The number spiked after Soeharto’s downfall, with 106 individuals prosecuted and convicted under the law between 2005 and 2014 alone.
The group has called on Indonesia to repeal the draconian law. (ary)