Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama read out his defense statement at today’s session of his blasphemy trial, calling on a courageous little fish to help prove his innocence.
In the televised trial session, as Ahok read out his statement, which he penned himself, he recalled the time when he spoke to kindergarteners about the difficulties he faces as governor of Jakarta. In order to relate to the small children then (and presumably to those seeking to criminalize him using religion now), he told them that his daily struggles are analogous to that of Nemo in an iconic scene towards the end of Pixar’s beloved family flick Finding Nemo.
Finding no humor in bringing up a cartoon during a court hearing (or perhaps to suggest the ridiculousness of the blasphemy trial in the first place), Ahok, with a straight face, told the court the tale of Nemo, who convinced a school of fish to swim against the pull of a fishing net in order to set themselves free.
“And when they were set free, did any of the fish thank Nemo, who had fainted? None,” Ahok said.
“So this is what we must do, even if we have to swim against the current, against those who are swimming in all directions, we must stay defiant. If others aren’t honest, that’s okay, as long as we’re honest. Maybe after that no one will thank us, but we shouldn’t care because God takes notice [of our good deeds], not people.”
Ahok summed up his argument by saying that he couldn’t have blasphemed against Islam because he, like Nemo, is someone who dedicated his life to serving others, regardless of the risks involved.
“I’m just a small fish like Nemo in the middle of Jakarta.”
Will Ahok’s fishy argument move the judges, or will it simply swim right over their heads?
Last week, case prosecutors sought a two-year suspended sentence for Ahok (meaning he’ll have to serve one year in jail if he commits blasphemy in the two year probation period), which his political enemies criticized as being too lenient. Ahok’s lawyers argued that he shouldn’t serve any time at all because the prosecutors failed to present strong evidence for his committing blasphemy.
Ahok’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for May 9, 2017. He may want to touch Nemo’s lucky fin for good luck.