CHRISTIANITY DAILY

First Christian Governor in Indonesia Named Blasphemy Suspect

The Christian governor of the capital of Indonesia has been named as a suspect in a blasphemy investigation regarding comments he made about the Quran.

In September, he used a verse in the Quran during a speech that is interpreted by some to say that Muslims are prohibited from recognizing non-Muslims as their leader.

This sparked public unrest and a protest organized by Islamic Defenders Front, a radical vigilante Islamic group, earlier this month on November 4, despite the governor’s public apology. Calling for the governor’s prosecution and resignation, around 100,000 people participated in the protest. The rally turned violent, resulting in one death, dozens of injuries, and clashes between protesters and the police.

Mr. Basuki is prohibited from leaving the country while the investigation is in process. However, he is not barred from running in the governorship elections in February when he will seek his second term.

Mr. Basuki is an ethnic Chinese, making him a minority with only one percent of Indonesia’s population of 250 million being ethnic Chinese. In 1998, anti-Chinese sentiment was at a high with over 1,000 ethnic Chinese killed and Chinese-owned buildings burned, resulting in riots across the country.

He is also the first non-Muslim to be governor of the city. The main religion of Indonesia is Islam, with 87 percent of the population being Muslim and less than 7 percent of the population being Christian, according to Statistics Indonesia’s Population Census 2010.

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