Many have suspected that underhanded attacks based on race and religion would play a large part in attempts to defeat Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama in his 2017 re-election bid. Although the official campaign season hasn’t even started yet, Ahok has been hit with a viral video, cut out of context, attempting to frame him as anti-Muslim.
Ahok, who is a Christian of Chinese descent, has recently been accused of blasphemy towards Islam after a video clip supposedly showed him saying to an audience in Kepulauan Seribu (The Thousand Islands) that the Islamic holy book of Quran is tricking Muslims to not vote for him in the upcoming 2017 election.
This is the full translation of Ahok’s speech in the above video:
“Ladies and gentlemen, you can’t vote for me because you’re being lied to by [the Quranic chapter] Al Maidah verse 51 and so on. That’s your right. So if you feel you can’t vote [for me] because you’re afraid to go to hell after you’ve been dumbed down, that’s fine. This is your personal calling. This program will continue regardless. So, ladies and gentlemen, don’t ever feel bad that you can’t vote for Ahok.”
From just that, one could see how the 30-second video would offend Muslims, as Ahok seems to imply that the Quran is tricking people against voting for him. And many Muslims were indeed offended, with several groups, including the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), announcing plans to report Ahok to the National Police’s Crime Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) today for blasphemy.
Not only that, Muhyiddin Junaidi, head of International Affairs at MUI, said that Ahok is lucky that MUI is getting law enforcement involved, because “if we were in Pakistan or India, he (Ahok) would have been killed.”
Yesterday, Ahok responded to the allegations by posting a clarification on his official Facebook page. In it, he urged people to watch his speech in full as he says the clip was cut out of context to make it appear like he insulted the Quran, which he said he would never do because he doesn’t like to politicize sacred scripture.
Below is the full video with the translation of the longer part of the 30-second video clipping above, with some words adapted linguistically to fit the context of Ahok’s words in its entirety (from 23:40 to 25:35):
“Ladies and gentlemen, you shouldn’t worry. The election has been moved forward, so if I’m not re-elected, I’ll step down in October 2017. So if these programs are going to run, you will still be able to reap the benefits from me. Even if I’m not re-elected as governor. I want to tell you this so you’ll be enthusiastic [about the program]. Don’t think that oh, if Ahok’s not chosen, then his programs will disappear. No, I’m here at least until October 2017. So don’t believe people – deep down ladies and gentlemen, you can’t vote for me because [these people] are lying to you using [the Quranic chapter] Al Maidah verse 51 and so on. That’s your right. So if you feel you can’t vote [for me] because you’re afraid to go to hell after you’ve been dumbed down, that’s fine. This is your personal calling. This program will continue regardless. So, ladies and gentlemen, don’t ever feel bad that you can’t vote for Ahok.”
Although many netizens have been calling for Ahok to be punished for the perceived blasphemy, many have also come to his defense, especially after the clarification.
Meanwhile, Ahok’s supporters have alleged that the original poster of the edited down video on Facebook has removed the video without any clarification. The poster is also apparently a supporter of Anies Baswedan, one of Ahok’s two rivals in the 2017 governor election.
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