Tuesday's HOT MIC

Tuesday's HOT MIC

The "moderate" Muslim nation of Indonesia just convicted a prominent ethnic Chinese Christian politician of blasphemy.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly known as Ahok, got two years in prison for quoting a passage of the Koran during his re-election campaign for governor. He was quoting the passage in order to show supporters that the Muslim holy book does not bar non-Muslims from governing Muslims.


In April, prosecutors had called for the blasphemy counts to be dropped in exchange for a lesser charge of "spreading hate," but the judges appear to have ignored that recommendation.

The controversial Chinese Christian politician was put on trial in December over accusations that he insulted Islam while campaigning for re-election. He repeatedly denied the charges.

Ahok was detained immediately after the verdict and taken to the Cipinang detention center in East Jakarta, local media reported. He said he would immediately appeal the court's decision.

The Jakarta governor sparked controversy in late 2016 after quoting a verse from the Quran to prove to his supporters that there were no restrictions on Muslims voting for a non-Muslim politician.

Almost no one who has been charged under the blasphemy law has ever escaped conviction, associate professor of Indonesian politics at the Australian National University Greg Fealy told CNN.

"The blasphemy law has really been a blight on the rule of law and democracy in Indonesia for decades," he said, adding that "the fact that Ahok was charged at all was really a product of massive street demonstrations that frightened the government into acting."

Indonesia has been fighting a low-intensity civil war against Islamist extremists for years, but it has been only recently that the disease of Islamic extremism has infected its politics. Once held up as a model Muslim state of tolerance and enlightened government, the rise of Islamism is forcing the government to curry favor with the mobs in the streets.

Ahok's conviction and sentencing to jail is a warning to other Indonesian politicians to avoid even talking about religion on the campaign trail. And if it comes up, it's best to toe the Islamist line whether you're Muslim or not.