Jakarta's Christian governor found guilty in Islam blasphemy trial

An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, to two years in prison for blasphemy against the Koran.

The governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was "found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy", a judge declared Tuesday.

Andreas Harsono, an Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch, told the Guardian the surprise verdict was "a sad day for Indonesia".

The Christian governor of Indonesia's capital city of Jakarta was sentenced to two years in prison on Tuesday for committing blasphemy against Islam.

"We urge the courts to overturn this verdict on appeal and acquit Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama". Many were angry, and others reportedly cried openly.

Some lay down outside the jail blocking traffic, chanting "destroy FPI", referring to the Islamic Defenders Front, a hardline group behind numerous protests against Purnama. They have instead sentenced him to two years in jail.

APHR said the ruling could embolden religious hard-liners in the country and called into further question Indonesia's harsh Blasphemy Law, which permits prison sentences of up to five years for those found guilty.

Purnama denied wrongdoing, though he apologised for comments he made previous year criticising his opponents' use of the Koran in political campaigning ahead of an election for governor of Jakarta, the country's capital.

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An incorrectly subtitled video of his comments later went viral, helping spark huge demonstrations that ultimately resulted in him being bought to trial.

Purnama denied wrongdoing, but apologised for the comments made to residents in an outlying Jakarta district.

Purnama had been free during the trial while he was seeking re-election.

They are to be succeeded by the victors of the recently concluded Jakarta gubernatorial election, Governor-elect Anies Baswedan and Vice Governor-elect Sandiaga Uno, in October.

"Despite protests of his innocence and evidence that his words were manipulated for political purposes, he has been sentenced to two years in jail".

Rights group fear Islamist hardliners are in the ascendant in a country where most Muslims practice a moderate form of Islam and which is home to sizable communities of Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, and people who adhere to traditional beliefs.

The government has been criticised for not doing enough to protect religious minorities among Indonesia's 260 million population of whom nearly 90 percent profess adherence to Islam.

"Going forward, the politics of religion is going to be a potent force", said Keith Loveard, an analyst at Jakarta-based Concord Consulting and an author of books about Indonesian politics.

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