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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: http://www.humanite.fr/lindonesie-u...

by Lina Sankari

Indonesia, a Step Toward Political Islam

Translated Monday 22 May 2017, by Tyler Gates

The conviction of Jakarta’s former governor for "blasphemy" reshapes the 2019 presidential election’s political landscape.

The Basuki Purnama case serves as a warning. The former governor of Jakarta was sentenced on Tuesday to two years in prison for "blasphemy", an unprecedented verdict which yields to followers of a strict and political Islam. Originating from the Chinese Christian minority, Basuki Purnama condemned during his electoral campaign the employment by certain ulemas of a verse from the Quran which implies that Muslim citizens may not vote for non-Muslim representatives. An erroneous interpretation according to him, which provoked the ire of conservatives.

April 20th, after Basuki Purnama’s defeat at the elections, prosecutors ordered charges to be dropped requiring community service and one year probation. Tuesday, however, the judges considered that Basuki Purnama, because he had "harmed Muslims", should have pleaded guilty. "The Ahok affair (surname Basuki Purnama - ED) is the most important case of blasphemy in the history of independent Indonesia; Ahok is the governor of the capital of Indonesia, and an ally of the President. If a man like him is sent to prison, what will happen to others?" asks Andreas Harsono, Indonesian branch of NGO Human Rights Watch.

This scene plays out against the backdrop of repeated attacks against pluralism and backlash against different minority groups at the heart of the most important Muslim country in the world with a population of 255 million, 90% of which are of Muslim faith. Credited with 70% of the vote before the election, the successor to President Joko Widodoinin in the office of governor of Jakarta was finally defeated by former Minister of Education Anies Baswedan (58%), classified as on the side of moderates, who has succeeded in rallying the Islamic Defenders Front. This election tests the political boundaries of the 2019 presidential election for which Baswedan fully intends to run.

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