Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, of Jakarta- an ethnic Chinese Christian, tearfully appeared in court denying that he intended to abuse the Koran at the start of his blasphemy trial in the Indonesian capital.
Purnama told the court that he had not intended any insult when he made comments about his opponents’ use of the Koran in political campaigning. He denies wrongdoing but has apologised for the remarks.
“It is clear what I said in the Thousand Islands was not intended to interpret the (Koran), moreover to insult Islam or the ulema,” said the governor, who was dressed in a batik shirt.
The trial of Purnama has sparked rallies, with over 150,000 participants, the biggest Jakarta has seen in nearly two decades.
Outside the court during Purnama’s trial, around 100 Muslim protesters called for the jailing of the Governor with most of them chanting “God is great”.
Before the trial, authorities pledged tight security after tens of thousands of Muslims, led by hardliners, took to the streets in December and November, to call for Purnama’s arrest and to urge voters not to re-elect him in February.
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