“An Indonesian court sentenced the minority Christian governor of Jakarta to two years in prison on Tuesday for blaspheming the Quran, a jarring ruling that undermines the reputation of the world’s largest Muslim nation for practicing a moderate form of Islam,” the Washington Post reported on Tuesday.
In announcing its decision, the five-judge panel said Gov. Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was “convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy” and ordered his arrest. He was taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta. At the court, supporters of the governor wept and hugged each other amid shouts of jubilation from members of conservative Islamic groups.
Photos quickly appeared online of Ahok, who still commands immense 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.
By early evening, hundreds of angry supporters had gathered at the high-security prison, some pushing hard against a tall metal gate and others setting a tire alight. “Brothers and sisters, justice has died in this country,” said a man addressing the crowd with a megaphone.
The stunning sentence flies in the face of recent claims by some Indonesian and American political leaders that Islam does not play a significant role in the governance of that country.
Last week, “Indonesia’s foreign minister expressed satisfaction after a meeting Thursday with the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, saying that Speaker Paul Ryan had affirmed he does not see the Muslim faith as the source of Islamist radicalism,” Voice of America reported.
“Speaking in the Indonesian language, the minister said the 15-minute Capitol Hill meeting had left her with the belief that the United States understands that Indonesia is a strong, pluralistic and democratic country, and that Islam, the predominant faith in Indonesia, is not an obstacle to positive relations with the United States,” Voice of America added.