Saturday, May 20, 2017


Happened to see some video coverage today from my home town of Portland, Oregon. Indonesians and other concerned residents there were supporting the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Ahok, who was just recently sentenced to a jail term of two years for the crime of blasphemy. 

Yes, you heard that right. Blasphemy. This is bound to sound very strange to most Americans (at least, I hope it is), but here in Indonesia, blasphemy is a serious crime (blasphemy, that is, against Allah or the Koran; blasphemy against any other religion or God is okay). 

What did Ahok do to deserve imprisonment? Well, there is where we see the real blasphemy behind the blasphemy, for, as far as any reasoning person would be concerned, he did nothing at all. It was charged by members of an organization called the FPI (Islamic Defenders Front), an extremist organization here in Indonesia, that Ahok had blaphemed against the Koran by saying that it could be misinterpreted in order to incite violence or unrest. 

Indeed, the Koran can be misinterpreted in such a way, as we well know; as can the Bible or any other holy book. It's kind of a no-brainer. 

But in a society like Indonesia, where small extremist groups like the FPI can exert pressure on weak and corrupt members of governement and the court, blasphemy is a convenient tool for use against a progressive governor who is 1) Christian and 2) Chinese/Indonesian. That's two strikes against him from the outset. 

Millions of people here in Indonesia and around the world have protested this kangaroo court and its shameful decision, which has, nonetheless, already been carried out. 

Let us hope, in our own strange times, that America will remain forever a free nation devoted to real justice and liberty. 

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