Indonesian prosecutors demand Christian Governor Ahok be jailed

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Indonesian prosecutors demand Christian Governor Ahok be jailed

The polls, though, were correct in one aspect.

The conciliatory tone contrasted with the fractious nature of a campaign that challenged Indonesia's religious and ethnically tolerant traditions, and comments made by Anies on the eve of the election. That is nearly the same percentage of those who voted against him on Wednesday.

Incumbent Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama casts his vote in the Jakarta governor election in North Jakarta, Indonesia April 19, 2017. Ahok is now on trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a pas.

A US-educated academician who has only turned to politics in the last three years, Baswedan, 47, had the political backing of former presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto's Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the Sharia-based Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS), which form the parliamentary opposition.

The prosecutor said that Ahok feared that he would go through the same experience as he ran for Jakarta governor.

More than 100 hardline Muslim protesters gathered outside the courtroom on Thursday, where they demanded a heavier sentence.

"Considering the intent in accordance with article 156a is to incite animosity and blasphemy, the prove of [elements of violation under] article 156a can not be implemented in this case", a public prosecutor read aloud the indictment, at the Agriculture Ministry Auditorium in Ragunan, South Jakarta, Thursday, April 20, 2017. But it may also suggest a declining influence of moderate Muslim political elites on the masses, at least in Jakarta.

"This victory is not simply about Anies.being backed by radicalism", said Alissa Wahid, daughter of former president Abdurrahman Wahid, whose death in 2009 left Indonesia without a pluralist leader of any stature. Moreover, in his efforts to improve infrastructure (and combat the annual floods) Ahok forced the eviction of thousands of people from their (mostly illegally built) homes at river banks.

So in his pursuit of the coveted Jakarta governor position, he approached Islamic militia groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), notorious for its hardline stance and violent attacks against minorities. Whether that had an impact on the final showdown is not clear, but religion was a far more important factor than everyday issues.

"We aim to make Jakarta the most religiously harmonious province in Indonesia", he said.

His trial, in which he faces a five-year jail term, is due to resume on Thursday. Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama sits on the defendant's chair for his court hearing in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, April 20, 2017.

Both had declared support only a week or so before the run-off election.

The national elections commission will announce official results in early May. But it was generally believed a moderate Muslim backlash in recent months had mitigated the effects of a hardline backlash.

Whether the same dynamics will be played out during the 2019 legislative and presidential elections is questionable. It seems more time is needed to see an elected Chinese governor in a Muslim majority province in Indonesia or the country's president. Basuki, a Christian, won the first round of voting in February in a three-way race.

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