Jakarta governor sentenced to 2 years in prison for blasphemy

Outside the court, Syamsu Hilal, a member of a hard-line Muslim group who reported Ahok to police previous year, said justice had been upheld.

Purnama lost a re-election bid in last month's election to Muslim candidate, Anies Baswedan. "But it is surprising that they were so harsh, that they imposed a custodial sentence on him at all that was never sought by the prosecutors". "If he can be sent to jail, what could happen to others?" the researcher said, as quoted by the Guardian. About 85 percent of its population are Muslim, but the country officially respects six religions. But there has been a rise in attacks on minorities in recent years.

The five-judge panel said he was "convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy" and ordered his arrest.

Jakarta Gov. Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama says he will appeal a guilty verdict and two-year prison sentence for blasphemy. The maximum sentence for hate speech is four years in prison while blasphemy charges carry a a five-year sentence.

The court's decision comes as a surprise to many, given prosecutors had only called for downgraded charges and the much lighter punishment of a year's suspended sentence on charges of hate speech. A few weeks later, roughly 200,000 conservative Muslims rallied in the Indonesian capital to protest Purnama, who is known as "Ahok" by his supporters.

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"Thank God, he should be jailed - this is right".

Benedict Rogers added: "Indonesia's blasphemy laws have been abused for too long, so we call on President Joko Widodo to review the blasphemy laws and amend or repeal them to prevent future injustices".

Television footage showed an armored police van arriving at the prison on Tuesday and journalists waiting for Ahok to emerge.

Ahok rose from deputy governor in 2014 after Jokowi vacated the capital's governorship following his victory in Indonesia's presidential election that year. Before the blasphemy controversy erupted, Purnama enjoyed a large lead in opinion polls due to his determination to clean up traffic-clogged, polluted Jakarta. "We are disappointed in the verdict, which we can't accept considering the evidence presented", he said outside the court. "That is unfair", Purnama supporter Andreas Budi said earlier outside the court.

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. "What I said to the local people of Thousand Islands is that if you are fooled by racists and cowards using that verse in the Quran not to vote for me, then don't vote for me". An incorrectly subtitled video of his comments later went viral, helping spark huge demonstrations that ultimately resulted in him being brought to trial.

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