The American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) condemned the sentencing of an Indonesian Christian politician, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, for “blasphemy.” The sentencing of Mr. Basuki, the Jakarta governor, also known as “Ahok” was heavier than what prosecutors asked for – rather than the two years probation they requested, he was sentenced to two years in prison.
M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D., founder and president of AIFD, released the following statement:
“The fact that Mr. Basuki was even brought up on charges of ‘blasphemy’ – a truly invented ‘crime’ – is horrifying. The reality of his sentencing should alarm all people, not just Christians, and not just Indonesians.
Indonesia has long enjoyed the reputation of being a model of Muslim moderation and pluralism, yet its problem of Islamism is real: from soaring rates of female genital mutilation (FGM) to violent protests against authors and artists for ‘blasphemy,’ the country is undergoing an ugly and dangerous radicalization that will hurt, kill, and traumatize its citizens and leak across its borders, threatening global security. Mr. Basuki was a governor whose election had only improved Indonesia’s global reputation. His sentencing proves that those who are loyal to Islamist forces no longer care about upholding this image for Indonesia, instead they seek a more sinister role in the world.
Ahok’s case again proves that the nation is on the front lines of this global existential battle against Islamism.
We urge Indonesian citizens to challenge their religious establishments – particularly the Nahdlatul Ulama – to take swift and bold action to condemn and dis-empower those who support and promote punishments for blasphemy, and to demand that their government do the same. I visited Indonesia during my time on the U.S. Commission for International Religious Freedom, and know that this evil does not represent them. Their government must do better to protect and represent the will of its people.”