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The Persecution Rests
A Dark Day for Pluralism in Indonesia

The Christian governor of Jakarta has been sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy: a chilling capstone to a scandal that has revealed rising intolerance in Indonesia. The Wall Street Journal has more:

The sentence for Jakarta Gov. Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a close ally of President Joko Widodo, signaled that his defeat in an election last month didn’t end tensions simmering in the Southeast Asian country since mass protests against him more than six months ago—the biggest in the capital in decades. Prosecutors had recommended two years’ probation and no jail time. […]

“The tension will continue,” said Tobias Basuki of the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Jakarta. The battle, he said, is over who will define Islamic politics: hard-line or more-mainstream groups. […]

“There’s now a legal precedent that non-Muslims can be prosecuted for blasphemy if talking about Islam,” said Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher for Human Rights Watch. “It’s frightening.”

When this whole affair got started in November, investigating the blasphemy complaint was seen by some as a way to placate the hardline Islamists who demanded it. Instead, they were emboldened. Mass rallies against Purnama persisted throughout last month’s election, and his opponent won in large part by pandering to the most hardline Islamic factions. Their growing influence hardly bodes well for a nation supposedly committed to religious pluralism and tolerance. If well-organized extremist groups can now successfully topple and jail officials over a passing Qu’ran citation, such tactics are likely to be deployed again ahead of national elections in 2019.

Purnama is appealing the decision, and the national government has lately been making moves to crack down on certain extremist Islamist groups, like Hizb ut-Tahrir. But it may be too late to put this genie back in the bottle: intolerance is gaining ground in the world’s most populous Muslim country, and the country’s democratic and pluralist traditions are suffering for it.

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  • Makaden

    The red line has been crossed. It’s time to stop referring to Indonesia as a vanguard of moderate Islam.

  • Fat_Man

    Another supposedly “moderate” Islamic country joins Turkey on the primrose path.

  • Jim__L

    It’s official. To support freedom across the world, Western nations need to support Christians.

  • D4x
  • FriendlyGoat

    Sounds like “Lock Him Up, Lock Him Up, Lock Him Up” to me.

    • Angel Martin

      It’s the difference between a political crowd chanting, and actually being sent to jail after an Islamic “trial”.

      I’m sure all the leftists who were so outraged by the moslem travel ban will be front and center denouncing this religious persecution.

      But hey ! Just keep repeating “Islam is a religion of peace”.

      • FriendlyGoat

        Don’t pretend I’m a friend of Islam. I’m not. How about you not pretending we’re done with “Lock Her Up”? The stated reasons for the Comey firing seem to indicate we are not.

        • Angel Martin

          She should be charged, not only for mishandling classified documents, but also for not properly retaining and turning over all her work related records.

          I also note that the DNC refused the FBI’s request to examine their hacked computer systems !

          Hacked supposedly by the Russians.

          If the Russia hacking really is a national security issue, Clinton and others who refused FBI access to he DNC computer systems should be charged with obstructing a national security investigation.

          • FriendlyGoat

            When Christians recommend the kind of railroading that was the subject here with Indonesia and an Islamic excuse to jail somebody, then the Christians are no better. The idea of conservatives going on witch hunts against their political opponents is not acceptable—-not in “that” country and not in “this” one.

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