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Back in November, we learned that the Christian governor of Jakarta, Indonesia, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was being investigated by police for blaspheming against Islam.

He didn’t actually do anything of the sort. What he said was that his opponents, by citing a verse from the Qur’an against being ruled by non-Muslims such as himself, were misleading people with their interpretation of the holy book. However, when video of that speech appeared online, someone had subtitled it without an important word, making it seem like he was criticizing the Qur’an itself rather than his political opponents. Approximately 100,000 Muslims demonstrated against Purnama on account of these lies.


Purnama’s blasphemy trial took place in December. This wasn’t long before the city’s elections, and the whole controversy saw his popularity plummet. He lost the race to a Muslim challenger a couple of weeks ago.

As for the trial, it was really a test of whether the nation’s legal system could fairly evaluate all the evidence… or whether it would succumb to mob rule.

Looks like mob rule won out.

The five-judge panel at the Jakarta court found Purnama guilty of blasphemy and jailed him for two years.

Announcing the verdict, presiding judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto said Purnama was “convincingly guilty of committing blasphemy and is sentenced to two years in prison” and ordered him to be detained.

Another judge, Abdul Rosyad, said reasons for the stiff sentence included that “the defendant didn’t feel guilt, the defendant’s act has caused anxiety and hurt Muslims”.

Purnama will appeal the decision, but what good is a legal appeal in a corrupt system?

Jakarta, much like the U.S. last year, fell for misinformation. And the new leader’s political opponent may indeed be locked up.

(Screenshot via YouTube. Large portions of this article were published earlier)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.

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