Jakarta's Christian governor sentenced to 2 years in jail for blasphemy

Jakarta's Christian governor sentenced to 2 years in jail for blasphemy

About 85 percent of its population are Muslim, but the country officially respects six religions.

He was taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta. Outside the court, his supporters wept at the news amid jubilant cheers from conservative Islamic groups.

Purnama lost a re-election bid in last month's gubernatorial election to a Muslim candidate, Anies Baswedan.

While running for governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as "Ahok", said his opponents were inaccurately citing the Quran to say voters can not vote for a non-Muslim.

According to the verdict, Purnama was "found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment".

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The school offers free education to children of the North Korean elite, many of whom would otherwise be sent overseas for school. He also holds a USA passport and Chinese citizenship, and is known for extensive missionary work as an evangelical Christian.

The day after Ahok conceded electoral defeat, prosecutors asked for him to be found guilty of the lesser charge of "expressing hatred towards or insulting" a group - in this case Muslims - as they say his actions lacked the intent of blasphemy.

A group of the governor's supporters staged a rival rally.

Hardline Islamist groups initiated the process, accusing Ahok of insulting the Quran during his losing reelection bid past year and called for him to be arrested and tried.

"Today is one of the darkest days in Indonesia", he added. Ahok's term as governor ends in October. Purnama enjoyed popularity as the governor of Jakarta.

Some on social media were angered at the verdict and accused the court of intolerance.

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Purnama, the first Christian to lead Jakarta in 50 years, is seen by supporters as an effective administrator in a bureaucracy long plagued by corruption and incompetence.

The controversy began in September when Purnama, known for his outspoken style, outraged Muslims when he controversially quoted a passage from the Koran during his re-election campaign. "What I said to the local people of Thousand Islands is that if you are fooled by racists and cowards using that verse in the Quran not to vote for me, then don't vote for me".

In a video, the governor, also known as "Ahok", tells voters to reject an interpretation of a Koranic verse that purportedly prohibits Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim.

An edited version of his speech was posted online and went viral, sparking mass demonstrations against him including one that drew around half a million protesters.

A top Christian politician in the world's largest Muslim nation has been jailed for making supposedly blasphemous comments. Vigilante groups frequently attempt with impunity to prevent Indonesia's religious minorities from practicing their faiths, and the country's gay community has faced a surge in persecution in the past two years.

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