‘Rot at the Core’: Blasphemy Verdict in Indonesia Dismays Legal Experts

Source: The New York Times

Photo

Supporters of Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama rallied outside City Hall in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Wednesday, holding an inflatable ball depicting Mr. Basuki, left. He was given a two-year sentence in a blasphemy case. CreditSigid Kurniawan/Antara Foto, via Reuters

JAKARTA, Indonesia — As the jailed Christian governor of Jakarta prepared on Thursday to appeal his two-year prison sentence for blasphemy, his conviction has renewed criticism of Indonesia’s notoriously capricious judiciary and set off a nationwide debate on the rights of minorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation.

Legal experts noted that the verdict seemed to be based more on public reaction to the governor’s comments than what he had actually said, in effect holding him accountable for the mass protests organized against him by hard-line Islamist groups.

“That’s the problem with the blasphemy law,” said Bivitri Susanti, head of the Jakarta chapter of Indonesia’s Association of Constitutional Law Lecturers. “It’s not about the speech itself and whether it’s condemning Islam itself. It’s about whether society believes it’s wrong or annoys them.”

The governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was convicted on Tuesday for comments he made in September challenging Muslim hard-liners who argued that a verse in the Quran prohibited Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim. Mr. Basuki said those who made that argument were misleading Muslims, a statement interpreted by some as insulting the Quran and Islam.

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Categories: Asia, Blasphemy, Indonesia

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