By Gayatri Suroyo
JAKARTA (Reuters) – An Indonesian court will proceed with a controversial blasphemy trial against Jakarta’s Christian governor, who is accused of insulting the Koran, a judge said on Tuesday, a case seen as a test of religious freedom in the Muslim-majority nation.
A panel of judges rejected a call by lawyers defending Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama to strike down the case because it had violated the ethnic Chinese politician’s human rights and breached procedures.
“The exception by the defendant will be considered and decided by the court after examination of all evidence. The defendant’s exception is not accepted,” said Judge Abdul Rosyad.
A tearful Purnama denied at his first hearing on Dec. 13 that he had intended to insult the Koran while he was campaigning ahead of elections in February for the governorship of Jakarta, capital of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
Hundreds of white-clad Muslim protesters chanted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) outside the court in north Jakarta on Tuesday and called for the jailing of the governor, known by his nickname Ahok.
“Blasphemy is not acceptable in Indonesia. No religion should be insulted,” said Mafut Rudiah, a protester standing outside the courtroom, which was flanked by lines of police.
Standing among a smaller group of the governor’s supporters, Kisab Tocakroyo said: “As a fellow Muslim, I think we should forgive him if he has apologised.”‘
(Reporting by Gayatri Suroyo; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Paul Tait)