Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama at the campaign trail in Cilincing, North Jakarta, on Monday (02/01). (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Ahok’s Autobiography Used as Evidence Against Him in Blasphemy Trial


JANUARY 05, 2017

Jakarta. Hardline group Islamic Defenders' Front, or FPI, has submitted Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's autobiography to the court as evidence against him in his continuing blasphemy trial.

The Muslim group claimed the autobiography, titled "Mengubah Indonesia" (Changing Indonesia) and published in 2008, contained passages which resemble parts of the governor's speech at Pramuka Island in October 2016, in which he reportedly insulted the Koran and a heavily edited video of which triggered the blasphemy allegation.


The book tells the story of Ahok's rise to be the most powerful man in the capital, from his humble beginnings in East Belitung, his parents’ determination to get the best education for their son, to his eventual decision to enter politics despite objections from his friends and family.

The governor said on page 40 of his autobiography that some politicians are fond of quoting a particular verse from the Koran — verse 51 from its Al Maidah chapter — to influence people not to vote for him in February's Jakarta governor election.

Ahok is now accused of insulting Islam because he had quoted the same verse in his Pramuka Island speech.

Novel Chaidir Hasan Bamukmin, the secretary general of FPI Jakarta, said the passage in the book proves that Ahok has been "attacking Al Maidah" since 2008, during his testimony at court on Tuesday (03/01).

Public opinion is still divided over whether Ahok had intentionally criticized the Koranic verse, or if he was criticizing his political opponents who had been using the verse to take him down.

The following are original quotes from the governor's autobiography:

"Throughout my political career, ... that same verse... has been used to divide the public, with the goal of paving the way to power for groups possessed by the 'spirit of colonialism.'

These political elites... have tried to hide behind the Holy Koran to get people of the same faith to vote for them."

In the book, Ahok also mentioned that Christian political elites have also used a verse from the Bible — Galatians 6:10 — for the same purpose.

As quoted from the book:

"The [political] elites hiding behind the Holy Koran have been manipulating Al Maidah 51, which forbids Muslims from selecting a Christian or a Jew as their leader. Essentially, these elites are telling the people to choose a leader of the same faith.

However, knowledgeable friends of mine have told me that the verse was handed down to Prophet Muhammad when a group of Muslims had conspired with the Christians and the Jews to kill him. So, it is not a verse about selecting a leader of government. In any case, in Indonesia, the leader of government does not double up as a religious leader as well."

In an interview with the BeritaSatu News Channel on Nov. 3, 2016, Ahok said former president Abdurrahman Wahid, or Gus Dur, was one of the "knowledgeable friends" he had mentioned.

In another passage in the book, Ahok also criticized Christian political elites who also use a verse from the Bible for their political gains.

"What about the elites hiding behind the Christian Bible? At every opportunity, they would quote Galatians 6:10, 'As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.'

I don't know what the political elites in Bali of the Hindu or Buddhist faiths say to their followers. But I have an inkling they're essentially saying the same thing: don't vote for leaders of a different religion, race, group or ethnicity. Choose leaders of the same faith as you. Some of them even say that people of different faith are infidels, animals, sub-humans and unfit to be leaders!"

In these paragraphs, Ahok claimed that all political elites — irrespective of their religion — often manipulate verses from a holy book to gain power.

Ahok never said that the Al Maidah 51 or Galatians 6:10 contain misleading messages, but that the messages are often misrepresented or abused by Indonesia's political elites.

Five judges in Ahok’s blasphemy trial will later decide if Ahok's autobiography can be used as evidence in the case.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent, was declared a suspect in the blasphemy case in mid-November amid mounting pressure from Muslim hardliners, who staged a series of wide-scale demonstrations in the capital and other cities against him.

Judges had rejected the governor's note of objections which called for the case to be struck down for breach of procedures during the third session of the trial.