Indonesian Christian governor's trial for blasphemy delayed

(Reuters/Tatan Syuflana)Jakarta's Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama sits on the defendant's chair.

An Indonesian court has postponed the trial for blasphemy of Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnaman until after the city's elections, citing security issues for the delay.

A report from Channel News Asia said the resolution to postpone the trial came as prosecutors requested for more time to prepare. The request was also taken into consideration as the court received a letter from the Jakarta police department who were concerned over the mounting unrest in the city. The city's police department chief sent a letter to the North Jakarta District Court requesting the trial be moved "considering the increasing vulnerability of the security situation in Jakarta."

Purnama is facing trial after several Muslim organizations accused him of disrespecting Islam. The Christian governor earned the ire of the Muslim community in the city when he made a comment on how his opponents were using passages from the Qur'an in their campaign.

He issued an apology for offending the Muslims and said his intentions were never meant to insult their religion.

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However, since the beginning of his trial last year, many have called for him to resign but the leader stood his ground and was even allowed to take part in the campaign trail. Some conservatives have even taken their protests in the streets and have repeatedly called for the voters not to support a non-Muslim in the upcoming elections.

Many expressed their disagreement over the court's decision to delay the trial and have raised the question on whether political interference played in the postponement.

One of the witnesses against Purnaman's case, Pedri Kasman from the Islamic group Muhammadiyah, expressed his disappointed with the court's decision.

"This hearing was delayed deliberately until after the election. The election, a political factor, is affecting this legal process," said Kasman, according to Reuters.

If found guilty, Purnama is facing up to five years in prison.

Purnama will go against Muslim opponent and former education minister Anies Baswedan in the second round of elections on April 19.

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