Indonesian Governor Sentenced to Two Years in Prison for Blaspheming Islam

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Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (popularly known as "Ahok"), the outgoing Christian governor of Indonesia's Jakarta province, has been convicted of blasphemy against Islam and faces a two-year prison sentence. The minority Christian governor is now on trial on accu.

The trial has been widely seen as a test of religious tolerance in the world's largest Muslim-majority nation, tolerance lost.

The U.N. Human Rights Office says it is "concerned" by the two-year prison sentence given to Basuki Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama for his "alleged blasphemy" against Islam.

The guilty verdict didn't appear to dent Ahok's popularity among many - he was apparently a selfie star with Cipinang Prison guards, some of them wearing Muslim headscarves.

The guilty verdict comes amid concern about the growing influence of Islamist groups, who organized mass demonstrations during a tumultuous election campaign that ended with Basuki Tjahaja Purnama losing his bid for another term as governor.

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At the court, supporters of the governor wept and hugged each other amid shouts of jubilation from members of conservative Islamic groups.

Ahok was charged with blasphemy after he said that clerics were misleading voters by telling them that Muslims were not allowed to vote for a Christian.

Ahok has been on trial for blasphemy since December following a speech he made in September in which he criticised his detractors for using a Koranic verse - Al Maidah 51 - to "fool" people into not voting for a non-Muslim.

The Islamist opposition to Ahok started in 2014 when he became the Governor of Jakarta, but intensified with the blasphemy case and subsequent protests. Hard-line Islamic groups opposed to having a non-Muslim leader for the city capitalized on the trial to draw hundreds of thousands to anti-Ahok protests in Jakarta that shook the centrist government of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

The punishment meted out to him is harsher than what the prosecution proposed, but is less than the maximum punishment of up to five years in prison as stipulated in the country's legislation. However, the panel rejected the call by prosecutors to put Purnama on two-year probation.

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According to the verdict, Purnama was "found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment".

Purnama, meanwhile, said he would appeal the court's decision. "Therefore we will appeal", he said.

Ahok, who pushed through several major infrastructure projects and streamlined Jakarta's bureaucracy, had been due to step down from the post in October.

Almost 13,000 policemen were deployed in the Indonesian capital to prevent clashes between supporters and opponents of Ahok, who lost the Governor's re-election on April 19.

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