Professor Says His Lie About Jakarta’s Christian Governor Led to Blasphemy Protest

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Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, governor of Indonesia's capital Jakarta
Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, governor of Indonesia's capital Jakarta

As thousands of Muslims took to the streets of the Indonesian capital of Jakarta last week to call for the arrest of the city’s Christian governor, a professor has admitted to twisting his words to lead Muslims to believe that he insulted the Quran.

As previously reported, Jakarta’s governor Tjahaja “Ahok” Basuki Purnama, the first Christian in over 50 years to be elected governor of the city, was questioned by police for nearly nine hours on Monday after he was accused of committing blasphemy, a crime punishable in Indonesia by up to five years in prison.

It was believed that the allegations of blasphemy stem from something Purnama allegedly said during a trip to the Thousand Islands in September. It was alleged that Purnama said Muslims are being lied to when they are told that the Quran tells them they can’t vote for non-Muslims.

Following the allegations, over 100,000 Muslims protested in Jakarta last Friday, with many calling for Purnama to be jailed and some demanding that Purnama be hanged.

See also Jakarta’s Christian Governor To Face Blasphemy Trial

Indonesia: Over 10,000 Rally To Support Jakarta’s Christian Gov. Accused of Blasphemy

However, Buni Yani, a communications professor at the London School in Central Jakarta who uploaded the video of the governor’s alleged blasphemic conversation, told media that he edited his Facebook video to make it look like Purnama was insulting Muslims and the Quran, Asia News reports.

Yani was questioned by National Police on Thursday morning. The Jakarta Globe reports that Yani’s lawyer, Aldwin Rahadian, said that his client had admitted to misquoting the governor’s speech to make it look as if he said “You’ve been lied to by the 51st verse of the [Quran’s] Al-Maidah chapter.”

Rahadian admitted that in reality, the governor actually said, “You’ve been lied to by [people] misquoting the 51st verse of the Al-Maidah.”

Although Purnama’s original statement argued that Muslims are being deceived by other people misquoting the Quran, Yani edited his Facebook posting to make it seem like the governor was arguing that the Quran is deceiving Muslims.

Even though Yani rejects the claim that he was behind last week’s protest in Jakarta, an online petition has been launched on Change.org that calls for legal action to be taken against him for inciting the protest, in which one person was killed and a several were injured.

Over 160,000 people had already signed the petition as of Thursday morning.

Member of hardline Muslim groups attend a protest against Jakarta's incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.
Member of hardline Muslim groups attend a protest against Jakarta’s incumbent governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama.

As Purnama is battling for his re-election and is involved in a closely contested three-way race that will end in February, a survey of over 440 Jakarta residents, who were interviewed between Oct. 31 and Nov. 5, finds that Purnima’s electability has plummeted as a result of the blasphemy allegations.

“One of the main factors [of the decreasing electability] was certainly the allegation of religious defamation,” Indonesian Survey Institute researcher Adjie Alfaraby told the news website Tempo on Thursday.

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