TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A candlelight vigil is going to be held for the Christian governor of Jakarta Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, who was sentenced to two years in prison for blaspheming the Quran.
The vigil will be held at 6 p.m. on Sunday, May 14 at the Taipei Main Station Exit 3. Participants are requested to dress in red and white, the colors of the Indonesian flag, and burn candles as they sing the Indonesian national anthem in support of the jailed governor.
As of 2016, there were approximately 238,000 Indonesians in Taiwan, many of whom are migrant workers. As they have Sundays off they often gather on that day in and around the Taipei Main Station to socialize and shop in the underground mall and nearby Indonesian Street on Beiping West Road (北平西路), where many restaurants, salons and shops can be found.
Purnama, who often goes by his Hakka Chinese nickname "Ahok," was accused of blasphemy against the Quran for a speech he gave to citizens of the Thousand Islands in 2016. He told would-be voters that they should not be deceived by Al Maidah 51 of the Quran, which prohibits Muslims from voting for non-Muslim leaders. The video was then edited to alter the context and uploaded to YouTube by Buni Yani.
The video then spread like wildfire causing many Indonesians considering his edited words an insult to the Quran. This eventually culminated in a trial for blasphemy against the Quran and though prosecutors had asked for a 1 year prison sentence, the judges handed down a two year sentence.
Some believe the trial was politically motivated as the governorship of Jakarta can lead to the presidency of Indonesia and the next presidential election is in two years.
One Indonesian national who is a Christian and will be attending the vigil, but prefers to remain anonymous said: "It's not fair because he just quoted it. He apologized and the two year sentence is more about politics than blasphemy as the presidential election is 2019 and the last governor of Jakarta became president."
The person went on to say, "He might not be really 100% right and he is human and he has a harsh mouth. Because of that he got into trouble, but he taught us about how to work hard and how to work very efficient and to do the right thing. He's better than the radicalism lately."
Muslim news anchor for Indonesia's Metro TV and TV show host Najwa Shihab in response to the recent uproar over Basuki's arrest and sentencing said:
"If your faith is higher to God, forgiveness and peace should become the main point. Can we have politics and religion without hatred of differences and sacrificing our unity?"
For more information about the vigil, please visit the event's Facebook group.