Ahok jailing a victory for Muslim extremists in Indonesia

Ahok jailing a victory for Muslim extremists in Indonesia, by Amanda Hodge.

If yesterday’s shock jailing of Jakarta’s outgoing ethnic-Chinese Christian governor for blasphemy has achieved anything, it is a growing consensus among Indonesia watchers that the country’s famed pluralism and religious tolerance is indeed under threat. …

Did his [electoral] defeat last month — notwithstanding a majority view that he was the best candidate — reflect the rising power of Islamic conservatives, the usual Machiavellian power plays of Indonesian politics, or simply the will of the people? …

“A dark day for Ahok, a dark day for the Indonesian legal system, and a dark day for Indonesian democracy,” ANU Indonesia expert Marcus Mietzner summarised neatly yesterday. …

What was most telling about the Ahok verdict was how willing the judges were to fully endorse the Islamists’ politically-motivated narrative against a Governor who, throughout his political career, has faced strident opposition from hardliners citing a Koranic verse known as al Maidah 51 to argue Muslims should not elect non-Muslim leaders.

For having lightheartedly challenged an interpretation that is also questioned by many Islamic scholars, Governor Ahok opened the door to an allegation almost impossible to defend — blasphemy.

With Tuesday’s victory, activists fear the previously little-known al Maidah 51 verse will in future be applied to the appointment of other public positions too, such as school principals and municipal councillors. …

Having already played a major role in orchestrating Ahok’s political destruction, Muslim extremists like the vigilante Islamic Defenders Front and pro-Caliphate Hizb ut-Tahrir were handed a complete victory yesterday with the 50-year-old’s personal downfall.

hat-tip Stephen Neil