Jakarta. Incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama has emphasized that he never intended to commit blasphemy and sincerely apologized to all Muslims.
Speaking on "DBS to the Point," a program on BeritaSatu News Channel, Ahok said he was born in East Belitung, off the east coast of Sumatra, where most of the population is Muslim. He said he even once studied at an Islamic school.
"There was no intention to insult religion. How could I possibly insult the Quran? I am sending my message to all the offended Muslims [in Indonesia]. I sincerely apologize," Ahok said.
He said the video of him that was widely circulated on social media was taken out of context, as it was cut and edited and thus did not provide the full context of what he was saying to residents during a working visit to the Thousand Islands district on Sept. 27.
He said he is prepared if the police want to investigate him.
"It is not a problem for me; if it makes this country better. Go ahead," Ahok said.
Ahok said he heard that the National Police's Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim) plans to summon him on Monday over the blasphemy allegations. He said he did not receive a summons from Bareskrim, but if the information is correct, he said, "I will come."
"As a good citizen, if you are summoned, you must go. The agenda is only to provide an explanation," Ahok said.
Meanwhile, concerned social and political observers and senior journalists have called for a peaceful demonstration on Friday, when at least 50,000 members of hard-line Muslim organizations are expected to participate in a mass rally in the capital to demand Ahok's prosecution for blasphemy.
"There could be a dark rider," Syamsuddin Haris, a political expert at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), said during a discussion in Jakarta.
He said he believed most demonstrators do not truly understand the essence of the problem.
"I am sure of that," Syamsuddin said.
The Discussion Forum of Journalists Caring About Diversity invited speakers, including media expert Budiarto Shambazy, social observer Emmy Hafid, Islamic Students Association chairman H.M.I. Mulyadi Tamsir, Indonesia National Students Movement (GMNI) chairman Chrisman Damanik and senior journalist Sabar Hutapea, who is also the coordinator of the forum.
Ahok is currently on leave from his job as governor while he participates in the campaign leading up to the Jakarta gubernatorial election in February next year. He is seeking a second term.
Some observers believe his case was unduly exaggerated to damage his chances in the election.