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03/26/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on March 26, the Supreme Court in Indonesia announced its decision to reject former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama’s case review petition against his blasphemy conviction.

Ahok was sentenced to two years in prison last year for a statement he made during a speech to residents of the Thousand Islands Regency, during which he said that his opponents were trying to use the Quran to convince people not to vote for him. He is currently incarcerated at the National Police Mobile Brigade Detention Center in Depok, West Java.

A Christian of Chinese descent, he was convicted of blasphemy despite the prosecutor’s recommendation that the blasphemy charges be dropped.

More than nine months after his conviction, Ahok officially challenged his conviction through a case review petition to the court.

Ahok’s lawyer and sister, Fifi Lety Indra, told Indonesian reporters in February that the basis of the appeal was the conviction last November of Buni Yani, a man found guilty of tampering with the video in which Ahok appeared. The video caused widespread unrest in the Muslim-majority nation and a turning of public opinion against Ahok who, at that time, was running for re-election.

Despite his attempt to clarify rumors associated with the video at the time, Ahok could not redeem himself from the blasphemy accusation.

According to Tempo.Co, “The judges rejected Ahok’s judicial review request. The verdict will be rendered today,” Supreme Court spokesperson Abdullah told the media. No reason was given for the decision.

Jakarta Post also reports that Josefina Agatha Syukur, another lawyer representing Ahok, said that the team has yet to receive any official information from the court. They can’t make a statement just yet as they must first gather information and determine their next steps as a team.

When asked about possible cause for the Supreme Court’s rejection, a local reporter familiar with the situation told ICC, “As presidential election draws near, President Jokowi does not want to rock the boat in fear of losing the election. He is not so certain that he would win anymore.” He added, “Jokowi has recently formed a political alliance with former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the man widely rumored to be behind the politically motivated campaign to jail Ahok.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said,The injustice against Ahok is discouraging and alarming, as his sentence serves as a warning from radical Muslims to any non-Muslims in Indonesia who dare to offend the former in any act as defined by them. The growing intolerance should be curbed before it stains the reputation of Indonesia – a country often referred to as ‘the model of religious pluralism.’”

For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: press@persecution.org