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Jakarta mayor back on campaign trail as judge says he'll stand trial for blasphemy

By Stephen Feller
Jakarta mayor back on campaign trail as judge says he'll stand trial for blasphemy
The governor of Jakarta, Indonesia, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, gestures while sitting inside the court room during his trial at the North Jakarta District Court on December 27, 2016, continuing Prunama's blasphemy trial, in which he is accused of insulting the Koran. Photo by Eko Siswono Toyudho/Tempo/Pool/European Pressphoto Agency

JAKARTA, Dec. 28 (UPI) -- A judge overruled Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama's appeal to have his trial on blasphemy charges thrown out, instead setting a date and new location for the next hearing in the trial.

Purnama's next hearing is set for Jan. 3 at the Agriculture Ministry's building in south Jakarta, a relocation from the Central Jakarta District Court in central Jakarta in an effort to avoid disruptions from protestors which have made previous hearings difficult to conduct.

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Purnama, who is known mostly by his nickname, Ahok, is on trial for what he calls a misunderstanding during a speech in September while trying to clarify that a line in the Koran seeming to restrict Muslims from voting for a non-Muslim in an election does not apply to the 2017 campaign for governor of Jakarta.

Even after having his appeal rejected by the court, Ahok returned to campaigning for his reelection as governor of Jakarta, despite the chance that he will be in jail and unable to serve if he wins.

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Security was increased for Ahok's third hearing in the case, both in and out of the courtroom, as hundreds of people once again gather outside the building and as close to the courtroom as possible.

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While some have called for his arrest and others for his release, the government has remained steadfast in trying the governor for the religious transgression. The majority Muslim nation, while theoretically secular, has a nearly 100 percent conviction rate for blasphemy cases, suggesting Ahok may end up serving up to five years in jail for defending himself on the campaign trail.

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