Anies Calls on Public to Respect Verdict on Blasphemy Case

Anies Calls on Public to Respect Verdict on Blasphemy Case

About 85% of its population are Muslim, but the country officially respects six religions.

He was taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta.

Nearly five months after the controversial case began, a panel of five judges from North Jakarta District Court handed down the decision on Tuesday, leaving his supporters stunned.

While running for governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as "Ahok", said his opponents were inaccurately citing the Quran to say voters can not vote for a non-Muslim.

Announcing the verdict, presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto said Purnama was "convincingly guilty of committing blasphemy and is sentenced to two years in prison" and ordered him to be detained.

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"We urge the courts to overturn this verdict on appeal and acquit Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama".

The governor was charged with blasphemy after he made comments last September about the Al Maidah 51 verse of the Quran, regarding whether Muslims can elect a leader of another religion.

TV news coverage of the scene outside the court showed some supporters weeping.Prosecutors had called for a suspended one-year jail sentence on charges of hate speech.

The verdict comes less than a month after Ahok lost his bid for re-election as Jakarta governor, a result some experts attributed to his ongoing trial. Before the blasphemy controversy erupted, Purnama enjoyed a large lead in opinion polls due to his determination to clean up traffic-clogged, polluted Jakarta.

Some on social media were angered at the verdict and accused the court of intolerance.

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Tobias Basuki, an analyst from Jakarta think-tank the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, said the shock decision could have been driven by pressure from Purnama's political foes on the notoriously corrupt judiciary to remove the governor from power as soon as possible.

This stems from a video released late past year that showed him explaining on the campaign trail that a Quran verse barring Muslims from voting for him was being misquoted. He insinuated that his opponents had used a Quranic verse to trick people into voting against him.

An edited version of his speech was posted online and went viral, sparking mass demonstrations against him including one that drew around half a million protesters.

Recent years have seen large anti-LGBT protests in Jakarta in early 2016, a push to criminalize homosexual sex and passionate reactions to allegations of blasphemy. Vigilante groups frequently attempt with impunity to prevent Indonesia's religious minorities from practicing their faiths, and the country's gay community has faced a surge in persecution in the past two years.

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