Leading evangelist Franklin Graham is calling on Christians to pray for the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, who could face up to five years in prison over trumped-up blasphemy allegations.
As Purnama is in the midst of a tightly contested re-election campaign, the ethnic Chinese Christian has come under intense scrutiny in the last couple of months after it was alleged that he insulted Islam and the Quran when he told fishermen in September during a trip to Thousand Islands that Muslims are being lied to when politicians tell them that the Quran forbids them from voting for non-Muslims.
Following the spread of the allegations against Purnama, who is the first Christian in over 50 years to be governor of Indonesia’s capital city, tens of thousands of hardline Muslims protested in the streets and called for the governor to be jailed and even executed.
Purnama was officially charged with blasphemy last month after he was investigated and questioned for hours by National Police. The trial officially began on Tuesday, when Purnama tearfully denied that he said anything offensive toward Islam.
He added that his remarks were not an interpretation of the Quran and that he was only criticizing politicians “who exploited the verses incorrectly because they do not want to compete fairly in the election competition.”
“As a person who grew up among Muslims, it is not possible for me to intentionally insult Islam because that is the same as disrespecting the people I appreciate and love,” The Associated Press quoted the governor as saying.
As the trial is set to resume on Dec. 20 when prosecutors are scheduled to respond to the defense’s arguments, Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, took to his Facebook page on Wednesday to issue his support for the Christian governor.
“We need to pray for the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, who is on trial for what Muslims are calling blasphemy, which is ridiculous,” Graham wrote. “He’s the first non-Muslim governor of the Indonesian capital in more than half a century. They’re coming after him because he’s a Christian.”
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SOURCE: The Christian Post