Source: The Guardian
Indonesian politician Basuki Tjahaja Purnama freed amid rumours he may seek to resurrect his political fortunes
By Kate Lamb in Jakarta
Thu 24 Jan 2019
Jakarta’s former governor Basuki Tjahaja ‘Purnama, also known as Ahok’. Photograph: Adi Weda/EPA
Jakarta’s former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, best known as “Ahok”, has been released from prison after serving out his controversial two-year sentence for insulting Islam.
The Indonesian politician was controversially jailed in May 2017 after a court found him guilty of blasphemy for a comment he made while campaigning for re-election.
Last year a movie documenting his life, “A Man Called Ahok” was released in Indonesian cinemas, igniting rumours he plans to resume his political career upon his release.
He walked free from the high-security Mako Brimob detention facility in Depok, West Java, early Thursday morning after receiving more than three months’ in remissions.
Ahok – who in a recent letter from prison asked his supporters to refer to him by his initials “BTP” rather than his Chinese nickname – was met by outside the prison by supporters clad in red, blue and white shirts, chanting “BTP, BTP, BTP”.
The jailing of the former governor – who an anomaly in Indonesian politics as a minority Christian and Chinese – was widely condemned by rights groups, with critics saying the sentence was a blow to religious tolerance and free speech, while others suggested the Indonesian judiciary had succumbed to mob rule.
Doctored footage of Ahok’s comments – which made it appear he had directly insulted the Qur’an rather than the conservative Islamic clerics citing it – spread quickly in 2017, sparking huge Islamist-inspired political protests that have had a lasting impact on the politics of the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.