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International – Jakarta fury

December 2016

A Christian governor in Jakarta has faced calls for his prosecution for ‘blasphemy’ from Muslim hardliners in Indonesia.

Reports from the BBC showed angry protests in November, as tens of thousands of hard-line Muslims marched against the governor of Jakarta, demanding he is prosecuted for blasphemy.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, is the first ethnic Chinese to hold the governor’s post in the capital of majority Muslim Indonesia. During one march of 50,000 protesters, some carried banners calling for Mr Purnama to be killed.

According to the BBC, Mr Purnama, known as ‘Ahok’, is planning to run for a second term as governor in February 2017. But some Islamic groups have already urged people not to vote for him, citing a verse from the Koran.

The verse is interpreted by some as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim. Others say the context for that verse is a time of war and it should therefore not be interpreted literally.

This is not the first time Indonesia has experienced serious racial tensions. In 1998, a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment led to mobs looting and burning Chinese-owned shops and houses. 

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