Disbelief, anger and grief in response to Ahok conviction
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Disbelief, anger and grief in response to Ahok conviction

THE two-year prison sentence handed down to Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama for blasphemy has been met with strongly mixed responses by those protesting outside the North Jakarta district court, Indonesian netizens and international observers.

Jakarta’s Christian governor was found guilty of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced to jail on Tuesday after a trial that was seen as a test of religious tolerance in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.

Ahok’s fans turned out in force to support him on the final day in court and were upbeat, with prosecutors previously calling for a relatively light sentence of two years’ probation with jail time were he to reoffend.

SEE ALSO: Indonesia: Governor Ahok gets rockstar treatment with flowers and trophies

Shortly after the court’s verdict, however, the mood changed drastically.

Some hardliners outside the courtroom responded with anger as they had hoped Ahok would be given the maximum sentence of five years under Indonesia’s blasphemy laws.

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Indonesian hardline Muslims react after hearing a verdict on Jakarta’s first non-Muslim and ethnic-Chinese Christian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama’s blasphemy trial outside the court in Jakarta, Indonesia May 9, 2017. Source: Reuters/Beawiharta

Jakarta’s deputy governor and Ahok’s running mate in the April 19 election Djarot Saiful Hidayat said that the court’s sentence “should have been lighter,” reported Tiga Pilar News.

Fadli Zon, an ally of Anies Baswedan who defeated Ahok in the April 19 election, called the panel of judges who convicted Ahok “great, independent law enforcement heroes.”

The deputy House Speaker in Indonesian Parliament tweeted that: “The decision of the judges is in accordance with legal facts and represents the community’s sense of fairness.”

SEE ALSO: Indonesia’s blasphemy laws and the oppression of minorities

“Today is one of the worst days in this republic’s life,” wrote the director of the Center for the Study of Religion and Democracy at Paramadina University in Jakarta, Ihsan Ali-Fauzi in a Facebook post.

“People will get the government they deserve,” added Ihsan, “In ten years to come, today will be remembered as a black spot in the history of our democracy. May our children and grandchildren really learn from it.”

Tobias Basuki, a researcher at the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies, tweeted that the verdict was a “complete farce.”

Prominent Egyptian Muslim feminist Mona Eltahawy promptly responded to the news by tweeting “blasphemy laws must be abolished everywhere.”

The sentence was “far worse” than expected and based upon “an illiberal law,” tweeted Aaron Connelly a Southeast Asia Research Fellow from the Lowy Institute.

Swathes of Indonesian netizens took to Twitter to express their astonishment, disappointment and anger at the sentencing.

One netizen was more optimistic, saying “I’m ready for the flood of those flower boards again. Cool.”

Ahok will be jailed immediately and has been banned from public office for life. He has said that he will appeal the court’s decision.

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