Jakarta. The blasphemy allegation against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama constitutes politicization of a religious issue, which sets a bad precedent, a young Islamic scholar said.
Zuhairi Misrawi, a member of Indonesia's largest Muslim group, Nahdlatul Ulama, said certain parties are trying to use the case to undermine the integrity and electability of Ahok, who is currently standing trial on blasphemy charges.
The blasphemy case comes in the lead-up to next year's Jakarta gubernatorial race, in which the incumbent governor, who is a Christian of Chinese descent, is seeking re-election.
The allegation has damaged Ahok's approval rating, which has since rebounded with several surveys in the past two months showing that he is leading in the polls again.
"Ahok will not be defeated by using this religious issue. Jakartans are well aware of what Ahok has done," Zuhairi said in a statement on Thursday (22/12).
The blasphemy accusation against Ahok emerged three months ago, after he referred to a Koranic verse in public remarks during a working visit to Jakarta's Thousand Islands district.
The country's highest Islamic clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), later issued a statement saying Ahok had insulted Islam with his remarks. However, Zuhairi has dismissed this notion.
"Ahok wanted to remind us to take part in democracy by putting forward arguments and work programs rather than using religious issues," he said.
Muslim hardliners have staged a wave of mass protests over the past two months against Ahok.
"If Ahok is found guilty, it will set a bad precedent for our democracy and law enforcement, because it will show that the outcome is not determined by legal facts but by mass public pressure," Zuhairi said.