Indonesia has a problem with Islamic bigotry

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‘Ahok’: Police name Jakarta governor as blasphemy suspect

  • 16 November 2016
  • From the section Asia

Indonesian police have named Jakarta’s governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, as a suspect in a blasphemy investigation.

Popularly known as “Ahok”, he is accused of insulting the Koran while campaigning in governorship elections.

Mr Purnama is a Christian from the Chinese ethnic minority and the first non-Muslim to lead the city.

The case has prompted fears of a rise in tensions in the largely Muslim country.

Profile: Who is Jakarta Governor Ahok?

The naming of Mr Purnama as a suspect means prosecutors can bring him to trial. If found guilty he faces up to five years in prison.

Police said they would not detain the governor despite calls for his arrest from Islamist groups, but barred him from leaving the country during the investigation. They also recommended that the case be tried in an open court.

He has not been barred from the February governorship election, in which he is seeking a second term.

Mr Purnama told reporters: “This is not the end, there will be a court process which we hope will be open. We will still take part in the election.”

Controversial comments

In a September speech Mr Purnama said Islamic groups who were using a Koranic verse to discourage support for him were deceiving voters. The verse is interpreted by some as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim.

Islamic groups said he had criticised the Koran and lodged complaints with the police. Mr Purnama later apologised.

Earlier this month, at least 100,000 people took part in a protest led by a hardline Muslim group in Jakarta calling for his resignation and prosecution.

The movement against Mr Purnama has taken on anti-Chinese overtones. Police said that ahead of the protest there were “provocative statements and images” on social media which called for violent action against Mr Purnama.

However, Mr Purnama remains popular for his hardline stance against corruption and reformist policies.

He was appointed governor of Jakarta after his predecessor, Joko Widodo, became president.

In 1998, a wave of anti-Chinese sentiment led to mobs looting and burning Chinese-owned shops and houses.

Ethnic Chinese make up about 1% of Indonesia’s population of 250 million people.

Clearly, this is part of a political smear campaign against a politician whose views (Christian) and policies (anti-corruption) are considered outside the mainstream of Indonesian society.  And even some Muslims in the country are not fooled by it.

Muslim Indonesians tweet support for beleaguered Christian politician Ahok

Indonesians are furiously debating charges of blasphemy against Jakarta governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as “Ahok.”

The Christian governor, who’s also minority Ethnic Chinese, is being accused of insulting the Koran, after a September speech where he reportedly said Islamic campaigners were wrongly quoting a Koranic verse to discourage voters from supporting him.

He apologised later, but that didn’t stop 100,000 incensed protesters from taking to the streets this month in a demonstration that turned violent. One person died and seven were injured in clashes with the police, Jakarta authorities said.

On Wednesday, as Indonesian police said they were beginning to investigate charges against him, the hashtags #KamiAhok (We are with Ahok) and #PenjarakanAhok (Convict Ahok) started trending online.

Many of his supporters are Muslim.

@adriansyah_ar says: “I am Muslim and I support (Ahok) because we need a leader not a prophet of the mosque! #KamiAhok”

@boeDhyHs says: “I am Muslim I support Ahok.. Carry on, for the sake of change in Jakarta… #KamiAhok”

On the other end of the spectrum, many of Ahok’s critics are pushing for jail time for the governor.

@FarizJhatisunda says: “Save the Homeland of the blasphemer who divided the nation #PenjarakanAhok”

Ahok was sworn in in Jakarta in 2014, becoming its first Christian governor in almost 50 years, and its first ethnic Chinese governor ever.

The vast majority of Indonesians are Muslim, although five other religions, including Christianity, are officially recognised by the government.

But one Muslim bigot misused a position he was given and disgraced himself in the process.

Marvel will punish ‘X-men’ artist who snuck political references into the latest comic

An Indonesian artist for Marvel snuck in several political and religious references into a recent X-Men Gold issue — and people noticed.

Ardian Syaf, who had previously worked on Batgirl and Superman/Batman titles for DC Comics, had put in references to an ongoing political conflict in Indonesia.

The references, which appeared in the first issue of X-Men Gold released last week, were quickly spotted by Indonesian readers. Many voiced their anger against Syaf.

In one of the comic panels, the numbers “212” are seen above a building. In another, the phrase “QS 5:51” is printed on Colossus’ shirt.

Syaf had previously posted the “212” comic panel on his Facebook page — which has since been deleted.

The numbers relate to the current ongoing protests against Jakarta’s Christian Chinese governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, commonly referred to as Ahok.

Ahok is on trial after being accused of insulting the Quran in a September speech — a charge he denies.

A mass rally was held against Ahok last year on Dec 2, or “212”, after that speech.

The phrase “5:51” is in reference to a verse in the Quran used by some Indonesians to state that non-Muslims should not be put politically in charge.

Syaf briefly posted an apology on his Facebook page, in which he stated that he was “not anti-Jew or Christian.”

This was later deleted from his page, but not before it was captured by netizens.

In a statement to Mashable, Marvel acknowledged that the artwork was inserted but said it was “without knowledge behind its reported meanings.”

The comic company also said that the artwork would be “removed from subsequent printings, digital versions and trade paperbacks”, adding that “disciplinary action” was being taken.

Mashable has reached out to Syaf for comment.

First, no, Ahok did not insult the Quran in any way, so those who claim he did are LIARS. His statement that his Islamic opponents were using a verse in the Quran to attack him was the truth. Truth is by nature NOT blasphemy.

Second, even blasphemy itself is a victimless act. It harms no human being and Allah himself, as exalted as the Quran itself makes Him out to be, cannot be harmed by it either. Why make a crime out of a harmless act? Shouldn’t governments be dealing with crimes that are actually harmful?

Third, many Christian teachings, including those of the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus, are explicitly denied in the Quran, so just the act of professing and teaching Christian beliefs may be consider blasphemy by Muslims.

Fourth, comic artist Ardian Syaf is not an owner of Marvel Comics, so his inserting his political and religious views into a comic with a largely non-Muslim readership was an extremely unethical thing for him to do. He should not only be fired from Marvel Comics, but blacklisted forever by the industry in general from working in comics again.

Fifth, this sort of bigotry against a Christian expressed by Muslims fuels anti-Muslim feelings by Christians in return, including in the United States. Donald Trump got himself elected President as a result of anti-Muslim bigotry. Thanks a lot, you idiot Indonesians!

Long ago, I wrote this:

Muslims, get a life!

We must push back hard against Islamic bigotry before it destroys us!

One thought on “Indonesia has a problem with Islamic bigotry

  1. Follow up: Anies Baswedan just got elected the new governor-elect of Jakarta!

    The background is Indonesia has a Pancasila system where the religion of Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism are the five for most recognized religions. In theory, these religions are supposed to be equal, but in practice Islam is favored among them. Despite this, Islamists want the law to be even more in favor of Islam than it already is.

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