Blasphemy Case’s on Progress, Mass Rally’s Not Needed

By : Datuak Tjumano *)

REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, After weeks of investigation, the National Police have named incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama a suspect in a blasphemy case, a move that may jeopardize the gubernatorial candidate’s efforts to seek reelection. Ahok was accused of violating Article 156 of the Criminal Code regarding blasphemy in reference to Article 28 (2) of the Electronic Information and Transactions Law.  National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian, however, has strongly denied the accusations and said the police would continue the legal process.

“Although there are different opinions among police investigators, most agreed that the case should be settled in an open trial,” the head of the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim), Comr. Gen. Ari Dono, said in a press conference on Wednesday. Ari said the police had also barred Ahok from traveling overseas but did not mention whether they would detain him during the case investigation.

Ahok, a Christian of Chinese descent in the predominantly Muslim country, sparked uproar among Muslim groups after he made a comment on verses in the Quran during a visit to Thousand Islands regency in late September. The police have so far received around a dozen reports regarding the case.

The National Police stated that video footage used as evidence to name incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama a suspect in a blasphemy case was original and unedited. Soon after Muslim groups denounced Ahok for blasphemy at a recent rally, the police held a digital forensic investigation of a video featuring the governor commenting on a verse in the Alquran during a visit to Thousand Islands regency in late September.

In a case screening to determine Ahok’s status on Tuesday, the police played a 20-minute section of the 1 hour and 48 minute video, from the fifth minute to the 25th minute. Following the screening, the police decided to name Ahok a suspect because of criminal elements in his speech. Ahok has repeatedly said he did not intend to insult the Alquran or Islam and has apologized.

At separate place, President Joko “Jokowi Widodo has called on the public to respect an ongoing police investigation into Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama over blasphemy allegations, as he considers the process has run in a fair and transparent manner.

Jokowi, through presidential spokesman Johan Budi, said that “what has been done by the police has met the necessary principles of transparency, fairness and professionalism. The President asks all parties to respect the legal proceedings that have been completed and are currently underway. The President welcomes the public to monitor the next phase of the ongoing legal process as Ahok has now been named a suspect.”

Ahok, meanwhile, called on his supporters to accept the police’s decision, saying he would use all available legal means to challenge the decision, including by filing a pretrial motion. Ahok said he had not yet figured out his next legal move after the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) charged him with blasphemy, which could harm his reelection bid next year. However, his lawyer, Sirra Prayuna, said the legal team had yet to determine its next steps. “We just heard Bareskrim’s conclusions. Give us time to think.”

Separately, National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the police would welcome a pretrial motion should Ahok file one. Boy added that a pretrial motion would not affect the investigation into the case, claiming that evidence gathered during the preliminary investigation was adequate to declare Ahok a suspect.

Jakarta General Elections Commission chairman Sumarno, meanwhile, said the commission would not drop Ahok as a candidate unless a court found him guilty.

“The candidate can still continue his campaign activities and join other upcoming election procedures until voting day,” he said.

Previously, a number of Muslim figures had accused law enforcers of protecting the governor. Ahok, who previously served as deputy Jakarta governor, replaced his former boss, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, after the latter won the presidential election in 2014.

After a blasphemy case was on progress, we must maintain our national solidarity among all circles, and we should condem if any groups in the country is still decide to make mass rally on November 25th, 2016. I think this plan must be canceled because its doesn’t make sense reason to realize.

Eventhough, the National Police had been announced that Ahok as a suspects on blasphemy case, our people have some questions such as does this decisions stop a political and law furor in Indonesia; does this announcement stop the plan of mass rally on November 25th, 2016 and can all circles in Indonesia respect the results and respects law process?

However, people savvy on a current situation must be built because with this way, people didn’t easy to provoke by a political interest group. We must give a huge attention on the next current situation based on Ahok’s case, because its could be trigered a new bomb terror attacks, its could be made social and political unrest specially on certain region or provinces which have a riots potential such as Solo (Central Java), Malang (East Java), Medan (North Sumatera), NTT, North Sulawesi, Papua and West Papua.

A various indicators could be explained those plan such as spreading hate-speech and stir-up in social media still continue, a various actors could be taken an advantage for their politic and economic goals if mass rally on November 25 th, 2016 could be made; having possibilities that a radical groups have been preparing their new attacks if “security gap” shall create in a current situation.

Because of that, I will be remainded all national circles to reject their participation if the plan of another mass rally will be realized because a genuine political participation could be created by unresponsible actors as space-goat to make a big riots again and if its happens, its may jeopardize our Bhineka Tunggal Ika spirit.

*) National and political observer from Padang, West Sumatera