World

JAKARTA – Police in the largest Muslim nation have named Jakarta’s governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama as a suspect in a blasphemy investigation.

Popularly known as “Ahok”, Purnama is a Christian from the Chinese ethnic minority and the first non-Muslim to lead the Indonesian capital city. He is accused of insulting the holy Quran while campaigning in governorship elections.

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In a September speech, Purnama said Islamic groups who were using a Quranic verse to discourage support for him were deceiving voters. The verse is interpreted by some as prohibiting Muslims from living under the leadership of a non-Muslim.

The religious groups said he had criticised the holy Quran and lodged complaints with the police. The governor later apologized.

Police said they would not detain the governor despite calls for his arrest from religious groups, but barred him from leaving the country during the investigation. They also recommended that the case be tried in an open court, the BBC reported.

If found guilty, he faces up to five years in prison.

Earlier this month, at least 100,000 people took part in a protest led by a hardline group in Jakarta calling for his resignation and prosecution.

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Earlier this month, at least 100,000 people took part in a protest led by a reliogious group in Jakarta calling for his resignation and prosecution.

Purnama was appointed governor of Jakarta after his predecessor, Joko Widodo, became president.

Since his election, he has been remained popular for his hardline stance against corruption and reformist policies.

Ethnic Chinese make up about 1% of Indonesia’s population of 250 million people.