View Full Version : Indonesia: Tearful Jakarta governor denies insulting Quran

12-15-2016, 05:29 PM
karta’s Christian governor choked back tears on Tuesday (Dec 13) as he gave an impassioned defence against charges of blasphemy, telling an Indonesian court he never intended to offend his Muslim countrymen.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – the first Christian to govern the capital in more than 50 years – is standing trial accused of insulting the Quran, an offence that carries a five-year jail term.

Facing court for the first time, the governor gave an emotionally charged defence against the charges, pausing several times to compose himself as he maintained his innocence.

Ahok’s “blasphemy” is just as ridiculous as murdering over a cartoon. He noted that some Muslims were invoking Qur’an 5:51 — “O you who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies” — in order to exhort Muslims not to vote for him. A video circulated of him saying: “Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t vote for me because you’re being lied to by Al Maidah verse 51 and so on.” But the video had been maliciously edited: he didn’t really say that the Qur’an was lying to Muslims, but that certain people were lying to Muslim voters by invoking a passage of the Qur’an: “So don’t believe people – deep down ladies and gentlemen, you can’t vote for me because [these people] are lying to you using Al Maidah verse 51 and so on.”

“I know I have to respect the holy verses of the Koran. I do not understand how I can be said to have offended Islam,” Purnama said, occasionally dabbing his eyes with a handkerchief.

He had long been the favourite to win the election owing to the popularity of his no-nonsense style and determination to clean up Jakarta, a crowded, polluted metropolis of 10 million.

But the scandal has eroded his chances of victory, with his opponents gaining ground since Purnama was named a suspect for blasphemy in November.

Prosecutor Ali Mukartono said the governor had “spoken a lie” and insulted Muslims, adding Indonesia’s top clerical council had declared his remarks blasphemous.

But Purnama said close Muslim family friends had played a enormous mentorship role in his life, and the allegations he had offended their religion hurt him deeply.

“I am very sad. This accusation is the same as saying I have offended my adoptive parents and siblings, whom I love and they love me back,” he said, his voice cracking.

He also listed the many services he had provided for his Islamic constituents, including the construction of mosques, support for religious schools and donation of sacrificial cows on sacred days.

A small band of his supporters kept vigil outside the court as a larger congregation of hardline Islamists chanted and held signs depicting Purnama in prison garb behind bars.

The courtroom was surrounded by police, with the proceedings being broadcast live on national television.

Nonetheless, Ahok is in an impossible position. Even if he is acquitted, the mobs are already playing judge, jury and executioner, and he will be in danger of being murdered at any time and any place.