Probe into alleged blasphemy by Jakarta governor begins

Gov. Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama attends police HQ to face inquiry into video where he is said to publicly insult Islam

Probe into alleged blasphemy by Jakarta governor begins

World Bulletin / News Desk

Police have questioned Indonesia's most prominent governor, whose alleged blasphemy sparked a mass demonstration in the country's capital that descended into violence.

Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama attended an appointment at National Police Headquarters on Monday morning, accompanied by his campaign team and lawyers.

There, the head of the criminal section of the National Police said Ahok was presented with a video of a speech he made to Thousand Islands residents -- a region of Jakarta -- and the testimonies of several witnesses.

"We need him to confirm the [validity of the] video, particularly related to the testimony of expert witnesses," said Inspector Gen. Ari Dono Sukmanto.

The case is being ushered through following the Friday violence which followed a demonstration by around 100,000 people outside Jakarta's presidential palace calling for the ethnic Chinese governor to face charges of publicly insulting Islam.

After some protesters started to throw stones and bottles, chanted "war" and "revolution" and broke through barricades, police responded with tear gas and water cannon.

The government and protest leaders subsequently agreed to speed up the probe into the alleged blasphemy, saying it would be solved within two weeks.

So far, police have asked for testimony from 22 witnesses, among them representatives of the Indonesian Ulema Council, and experts on the Quran, criminal law and linguistics.

Ahok -- a Christian -- is accused of publicly insulting Islam, however he says he was calling for people not to be “deceived” by those using a Quranic verse, Al Maidah: Chapter 51, not that the verse itself was insulting.

At the end of October, the governor voluntarily turned himself into police and publicly apologized to Muslims for any unintentional offence. At least 10 parties have reported him and demanded police launch a probe.

A wave of demonstrations demanding the acceleration of legal proceedings against Ahok subsequently occurred in several regions of Indonesia, peaking in Friday's protest.

On Monday afternoon, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo visited the office of the country's biggest Muslim organization, Nahdlatul Ulama, where he had a closed-door meeting.

On Sunday, Widodo asked political and religious leaders to help cool tensions.

"In the coming week, we will invite political figures and religious leaders to give input into how we can cool the situation down," quoted him as saying during a teleconference to Indonesians in Australia.

Indonesia's president was forced to delay a much-anticipated Nov. 6-8 visit to the region following Friday's violence.

Last Mod: 07 Kasım 2016, 15:09
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