Naming Jakarta Governor as Blasphemy Suspect Jeopardizes Religious Freedom: Observer

Hundreds of Islamic hardliners protested against Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama just before he took office in 2014. He is Jakarta's first leader from the tiny ethnic Chinese minority. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Adimaja)

By : Alin Almanar | on 7:19 PM November 17, 2016
Category : News

Jakarta. Naming the Jakarta governor a suspect in a blasphemy case could put religious freedom in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country in further peril, an observer has said.

The government is put in a pickle since dropping the case, in which governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama is accused of insulting the Koran, would have likely drawn further ire from Muslim hardliners.

The police eventually charged the Christian and ethnic-Chinese governor on Wednesday (16/11) under the criminal code on religious blasphemy, a move which came after a series of massive protests by Muslims in recent weeks.

Wednesday's decision proved that AhokĀ "was trapped in the politicization of identity designed by certain groups," Setara Institute chairman Hendardi said.

"The law wasn't fully enforced during the investigation into the case, it did not meet all the due process of the law," he said in a statement released on Wednesday.

"Naming Ahok a suspect has set a bad precedent for religious freedom in Indonesia," Hendardi added.

Most Muslims in the country follow a moderate form of Islam, but religious minorities have been the target of wrath by more hardline groups in recent years.

Muslim hardliners have been protesting against Ahok since he rose to power in Jakarta in late 2014.

The blasphemy case comes in the lead-up to next year's Jakarta gubernatorial race, in which Basuki is seeking re-election. His status as a suspect does not affect his candidacy.

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