Indonesia hard-liners call for jailing of Christian governor

Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama sits on the defendant's chair as he attends his sentencing hearing in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

It was significant because as an ethnic Chinese Indonesian and a Christian he is a double minority in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

The five-judge panel at the Jakarta court found Purnama guilty of blasphemy and jailed him for two years.

Ahok rose from deputy governor in 2014 after Jokowi vacated the capital's governorship following his victory in Indonesia's presidential election that year.

But Ahok supporter Adrian Sianturi said the trial was a victory for intolerance and corruption.

The government has been criticised for not doing enough to protect religious minorities but Widodo had urged restraint over the trial and called for all sides to respect the legal process. Outside the court, his supporters wept at the news amid jubilant cheers from conservative Islamic groups. On Twitter, some Indonesians have declared the verdict makes them ashamed of their country.

"Here we have witnessed that the judge has become a representative of God, that the judge has upheld justice", said Syamsu Hilal, a member of an anti-blasphemy group who reported Ahok to police a year ago.

"I did not say [things] that insulted the Quran", he said in October.

Jakarta's Chinese-Christian Governor has been sentenced to two years in prison after being found guilty of blasphemy, in a case seen as a test of Indonesia's religious tolerance.

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Purnama, meanwhile, said he would appeal the court's decision.

Ahok has indicated that he will appeal the court's decision.

Mr Purnama was taken into custody immediately after the verdict was read out. "At a time when fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and freedom of religion, are under increasing threat region-wide, this verdict sends the wrong signal to Indonesia's neighbors in the ASEAN community", he said in a written statement.

"We can understand but we cannot accept the verdict".

The lead judge, Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, said the trial was a purely criminal one and that the court disagreed that there were political aspects to the case.

The ruling significantly challenges the country's reputation as moderate in the Islamic world, particularly because prosecutors recommended a punishment of two years' probation, not imprisonment.

This is while Muslim groups and activists in Jakarta had called for the maximum penalty possible over Purnama's remarks.

Purnama was hauled into court past year to face trial for allegedly insulting Islam while campaigning for re-election in a case critics said was politically motivated.

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