Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, the outgoing governor of Indonesian capital Jakarta, has been sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy and inciting violence.
The governor, also known as Ahok, is an ethnic Chinese and Christian. The case was seen as a test of Indonesia‘s religious tolerance.
Ahok was accused of insulting Islam by referring to a verse in the Koran during a campaign speech.
He has denied blasphemy and plans to appeal. He was taken into custody after the verdict was read out.
His deputy Djarot Saiful Hidayat will take over his duties until his term ends in October.
The sentence is harsher than most observers had expected – prosecutors had called for a suspended one-year sentence.
Image source YouTube
Ahok was “found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment,” the judge told the court.
He was accused of blasphemy for comments he made during a pre-election speech in September 2016.
Ahok implied that Islamic leaders were trying to trick voters by using a verse in the Koran to argue that Muslims should not vote for a non-Muslim leader.
The governor’s remarks, which were widely shared in an edited video, sparked outrage among religious hardliners.
They staged regular large rallies calling for him to face trial.
Throughout the trial, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama denied wrongdoing, but did apologize for his comments nonetheless.
Ahead of the verdict, protesters for and against Ahok had gathered outside the court demanding respectively his acquittal or a long prison sentence.
Disappointed with the eventual verdict, some protesters demanded Ahok to be hanged.
Around 15,000 security personnel from the police and military are providing security at the scene, with riot police and armored vehicles separating the rival groups.
Ahok became governor after his predecessor, Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, was elected president in 2014.
As an ethnic Chinese Indonesian and Christian Ahok is a double minority, and was Jakarta’s first non-Muslim governor for 50 years.
His political success was also seen as a significant development given the violent anti-Chinese riots that occurred in the city in 1998.
Before the blasphemy allegations, Ahok had been widely hailed as a straight-talking politician with a strong anti-corruption stance.
However, the controversy overshadowed scheduled elections last month.
Despite Ahok’s enduring popularity with many in Jakarta for his efforts to improve living standards, he lost to conservative Muslim candidate Anies Rasyid Baswedan.
Indonesia is the world’s most-populous Muslim country. About 85% of Indonesia’s population are Muslim, but the country officially respects six religions.
One person was shot dead and three police officers were wounded at a freedom of speech debate in Denmark’s capital Copenhagen where the French ambassador was speaking.
Two gunmen are said to be still at large.
Reports say up to 40 shots were fired outside the venue in the Danish capital.
Controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks, who has drawn caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, was also present at the blasphemy debate.
Shortly after the attack, a message appeared on the Twitter feed of French ambassador Francois Zimeray saying he was unharmed.
The area around the venue, reportedly a cafe, is under lockdown.
Lars Vilks stoked controversy in 2007 by drawing pictures of the Prophet Muhammad dressed as a dog.
An organizer of the event, Helle Merete Brix, said she clearly considered the incident as an attack on Lars Vilks, reported the Associated Press.
In 2010 two brothers tried to burn down Lars Vilks’ house in southern Sweden and were imprisoned for attempted arson.
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A US state department official was killed and at least one other American was wounded when a gunmen stormed the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi.
It is believed the protest was held over a US-produced film that is said to be insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.
The militiamen raided the compound with grenades before setting it on fire.
On Tuesday, protesters against the film breached the walls of the US embassy in the Egyptian capital, Cairo.
The film that sparked the demonstration is said to have been produced by a US citizen from California named Sam Bacile, and promoted by an expatriate Egyptian Copt.
The two men are described as having anti-Islamic views.
A trailer of the low-budget movie has appeared on YouTube translated into Arabic.
The video, called Innocence of Muslims, is shot in English, but provides Arabic subtitles.
It was written, directed and produced by Israeli-American real-estate developer Sam Bacile in California, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Sam Bacile, 52, told the paper that he regards Islam as a “cancer” and was able to produce the film with $5 million that he raised with the help of about 100 Jewish donors.
The film depicts Muhammad as a fraud, showing him having sex and calling for massacres.
Throughout the video, “Muhammad” – portrayed by an American actor – is branded a “bastard”, “rapist” and “child molester” by other actors in the film.
A US state department official was killed when a gunmen stormed the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi
Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad in any fashion, much less in an insulting way.
Ultra-conservatives have claimed the actions are a protest against the film, which they say attacks Islam’s prophet, Muhammad, and is a form of blasphemy.
In the attack in Benghazi, unidentified armed men stormed the grounds, shooting at buildings and throwing handmade bombs into the compound.
Security forces returned fire but Libyan officials say they were overwhelmed.
“One American official was killed and another injured in the hand. The other staff members were evacuated and are safe and sound,” Libya’s deputy interior minister Wanis al-Sharif told AFP news agency.
The identity of the US official killed is not yet known. The consular worker was reported to have been shot.
In a statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton confirmed the death, saying: “We are heartbroken by this terrible loss.”
“Some have sought to justify this vicious behavior as a response to inflammatory material posted on the Internet,” she said in a statement.
“The United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others. But let me be clear: There is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Reports say a militia known as the Ansar al-Sharia brigade was involved in the attack, but the group has denied the claim.
Many people are still armed following the conflict that overthrew Col. Muammar Gaddafi last year.
There were calls on social media networks for protests against US interests in the capital, Tripoli, but no disturbances have been confirmed.
The rally followed a demonstration in Cairo, in which protesters breached the US embassy and tore down the United States flag, which was flying at half mast to mark the 9/11 attacks, and replaced it with an Islamist banner.
Thousands of protesters had gathered outside the US embassy in the Egyptian capital.
Egyptian protesters condemned what they said was the humiliation of the Prophet of Islam under the pretext of freedom of speech.
“Both Muslims and Christians are participating in this protest against this offence to Islam,” said one protester, according to Associated Press news agency.
US Republican presidential contender Mitt Romney criticized President Barack Obama for his response to the protests.
“It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks,” Mitt Romney said in a statement.