Jakarta's Christian governor jailed for insulting Islam

The maximum sentence is four years in prison for hate speech and five years for blasphemy. About 85 percent of its population are Muslim, but the country officially respects six religions.

After the verdict, the governor was taken to a Jakarta prison but it was unclear whether he would remain in jail or be released later to allow him to file his appeal.

While running for governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as "Ahok", said his opponents were inaccurately citing the Quran to say voters can not vote for a non-Muslim.

There was no immediate sign of any violence after the court's verdict.Purnama denied wrongdoing, though he apologised for comments he made last year criticising his opponents' use of the Koran in political campaigning ahead of an election for governor of Jakarta, the country's capital.Purnama lost his bid for re-election in an April run-off - after the most divisive and religiously charged election in recent years to a Muslim rival, Anies Baswedan.

Supporters of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama display balloons during a rally outside the court where his sentencing hearing is held in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, May 9, 2017.

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Prosecutors last month recommended a two-year suspended prison sentence for Ahok.

But Ahok supporter Adrian Sianturi said the trial was a victory for intolerance and corruption.

The two-year prison sentence that was handed to Ahok by the team of judges, led by Dwiarso Budi Santiarto, is a major surprise particularly because prosecutors had only demanded two years probation (and a one-year prison sentence in case Ahok would violate his probation) as they could not find any evidence of blasphemy.

"Today is one of the darkest days in Indonesia", he added. Before the blasphemy controversy erupted, Purnama enjoyed a large lead in opinion polls due to his determination to clean up traffic-clogged, polluted Jakarta.

The verdict raised lots of dusts amongst protesters outside the court.

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But Ahok supporter Adrian Sianturi said "this decision is the character assassination of a good governor, a clean politician who is rare in this country".

This stems from a video released late a year ago that showed him explaining on the campaign trail that a Quran verse barring Muslims from voting for him was being misquoted.

An incorrectly subtitled video of his comments later went viral, helping spark huge demonstrations that ultimately resulted in him being bought to trial. But, based on Tjahjo's announcement, it's unlikely that we'll see Ahok in Jakarta's top office ever again.

"This is bad news for Indonesian minorities", he said.

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