President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo, accompanied by State Secretary Pratikno, third from right, during a meeting with Muslim leaders in Jakarta on Monday (07/11). The executive board of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) urged police on Wednesday to base their investigation into the blasphemy allegations against Jakarta Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama on its recent statement on the case. (Antara Photo/Yudhi Mahatma)

Muslim Leaders Urge Police to Heed Their Stance in Blasphemy Investigation

BY :ALIN ALMANAR

NOVEMBER 09, 2016

Jakarta. Indonesia's highest Islamic clerical body urged police on Wednesday (09/11) to base their investigation into the blasphemy allegations against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama on its recent statement on the case.

The executive board of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) released a statement last month saying that Ahok had "insulted the Koran, ulemas and Muslims" with remarks he made about a Koranic verse during September.

Ahok, who is a Christian of Chinese ethnicity, publicly apologized to Muslims a day before the statement was issued, but police have vowed to press ahead with their probe into the case amid mounting pressure from several Muslim groups, which filed multiple police reports against Ahok last month.

Reiterating its stance during a meeting on Wednesday, the MUI executive board issued another statement urging police to make the October statement their main reference in the legal process.

Considering whether Ahok's remarks constitute a criminal offense, police are now conducting a preliminary investigation into the case in consultation with several experts on crime, religion and language.

"The blasphemy allegation is not a petty case and thus the legal process must be conducted transparently, swiftly and based on the public's sense of justice," said the MUI, which is comprised of around 70 leaders of Muslim groups in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.

"Muslims certainly feel that the remarks are an insult against Islam, the Koran and ulemas, as they enter the area of their faith by making a judgement on Islamic teachings with negative words," Wednesday's statement says.

The case resulted in tens of thousands of Muslims taking to the streets of Jakarta in protest last Friday. The rally proceeded peacefully for most of the day before clashes erupted between demonstrators and police in the evening.

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