The price paid was by the (former) Christian governor, railroaded on trumped up charges of ‘blasphemy’, and then jailed.
Indonesia: Free Speech vs. Treason
by Jacobus E. Lato • May 15, 2017 at 4:30 am
- On April 19, the campaign of Jakarta’s radicals chanting, “We want a Muslim governor!” paid off, as Ahok was defeated in the gubernatorial election. Exit polls on election day indicated that religion was the main factor behind the voting.
- On May 10, Indonesia’s radicals scored a second victory, when Ahok was found guilty of blaspheming Islam and sentenced to two years in prison.
- The verdict came as a surprise even to the prosecutors of the case — they had requested only a suspended sentence for the offense of “inciting hatred”.
In the two decades since the fall of Indonesian President Suharto’s 32-year reign in 1998, the use of the accusation of “treason” as a governmental tool to quash political opposition gradually reemerged in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
Today, however, those trying to overthrow the leadership are Islamists intent on unraveling the fabric of a pluralistic society.
This situation has led to the debate over freedom of speech and the separation of church and state — or, here, mosque and state.
Four recent rallies in the capital city of Jakarta illustrate the nature of what has become a full-blown controversy. In each case, protesters gathered outside mosques after Friday prayers for what they claim are “spontaneous” demonstrations made necessary by their clerics’ lack of financial resources to plan and stage such events. But evidence collected by Indonesian authorities indicates otherwise.