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Jakarta’s Christian Governor held for blasphemy against Islam

The Governor of Jakarta, an Islamic nation capital of Indonesia has been sentenced to two years after he was found guilty of blasphemy against Islam. 

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who practices Christianity was arrested yesterday which sends a signal of religious intolerance and freedom of speech in Indonesia. It is interesting to note here that he was defeated by Anies Baswedan, a former minister of education and culture due to the blasphemy case. 

Until Anies takes over the official role as the Governor in October, Deputy Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat will be serving as acting governor. 

Mr Basuki told the reporters that he would appeal against the verdict. He was taken to Cipinang Penitentiary in Jakarta, which houses criminals. He is not eligible to remain free during his appeal under the Indonesia’s procedural code. The prison lodges drug dealers and rapists. Indonesia is a secular democracy but with larger Muslim population in the world and Blasphemy is a crime.

Basuki was the second non-Muslim Governor for Jakarta and he by ethnicity is a Chinese. He took the role in 2014. A statement issued by him during the elections attacking those who said Quran prohibits voting for a non-Muslim has been seen as a direct insult to the Holy Book. 

The law has been in existence since 1965 and only a handful has been prosecuted so far. Indonesia has a Muslim population of 190 million.

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