The former Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaya Purnama, has been freed from prison after serving almost two years behind bars for blasphemy.
Purnama, known as “Ahok,” was jailed in May 2017 for allegedly insulting the Quran by insisting that his political rivals were deceiving people by using the Islamic text to stop Muslims being led by non-Muslims. On the morning of Jan. 24, Indonesian authorities released the politician over three months early as a result of his good behavior while incarcerated.
Proses administrasi sebelum bebas di Mako Brimob pagi tadi. Merdeka! pic.twitter.com/CYsltlxTNA
— Basuki T Purnama (@basuki_btp) January 24, 2019
“Free in the morning,” he tweeted late Wednesday night.
“Basuki Tjahaja Purnama got out of the (detention centre) around 7.30am,” his secretary Ima Mahdiah told journalists, according to the Straits Times.
“I am very thankful to God for allowing me to spend time in prison,” Ahok said just prior to his release, according to Christian Today.
The politician has also requested that supporters do not hold a parade to welcome him home, citing a desire to keep the peace and not disturb public order. He also implored his followers to stay engaged in the political process.
“I strongly urge all my fans not to abstain from voting,” he said.
Indonesia is currently ranked at number 30 on the Open Doors World Watch List, with a high level of persecution coming from the radical Islamists. “While the government tightens the country’s blasphemy laws, most problems for believers come from confrontations with radical Islamic groups,” Open Doors USA noted on its Indonesia fact sheet.
“Some Islamic religious leaders instigate hatred against Christians and other religious minorities through their teaching in mosques, but this occurs in the mass media and by politicians as well,” the persecution watchdog wrote.
Recent incidents of violence against the Christian population include an attack on three separate churches in Surabaya, the capital of East Java. The perpetrators were members of three different families. Horrifyingly, young children were convinced to be involved in the heinous act. Some eleven Christians were killed.