The conviction rate for blasphemy in Indonesia is 100%, and that’s bad news for Basuki Tjahaja Purnama. The talented Jakarta Governor faces up to five years in prison after a court decided Tuesday that prosecutors have a credible case against him for making lighthearted comments about the Quran. A conviction will deprive Jakarta of an able administrator and reformer, but the bigger damage is to Indonesia’s religious and ethnic harmony.
After Mr. Purnama made his supposedly offending comments in September, Islamist groups misquoted him to stoke outrage against the Governor, who is Christian and ethnic Chinese. They held a 150,000-person hate rally on Nov. 4 after which rioters burned cars and looted shops.
President Joko Widodo, Mr. Purnama’s ally, bowed to the Islamist pressure and opened a blasphemy investigation. At that point it looked like Mr. Purnama would still be cleared. Most religious experts consulted by the police said there was no case against him. But then the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and other extremist groups used traditional and online media to convince moderate and middle-class Muslims that their faith was under attack. A Dec. 2 prayer rally against Mr. Purnama attracted 500,000.
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