JAKARTA - Prosecutors said on Tuesday (Dec 20) that the blasphemy charges against Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama were in line with the law, as crowds of supporters and opponents rallied outside the courthouse during the second hearing of the case.
The prosecutors said Mr Basuki insulted Muslims by claiming his political opponents were using the Quran to sway voters against him.
"Based on our analysis and judicial description, the entire objection filed by the accused and his lawyers is not based (on) the law and have to be rejected,” Mr Ali Mukartono said.
The hearing will resume on Dec 27, when judges will decide whether the blasphemy trial will proceed.
Supporters and opponents of Mr Basuki, who entered a plea of not guilty last week, rallied outside the courthouse on Tuesday. Police and military personnel were deployed to stand guard between the two groups to prevent any possible clash.
"We demand justice...Don't be deceived by Ahok's tears," a speaker for the anti-Basuki group shouted from the top of a truck, referring to the governor by his popular name.
A group which supported the governor appealed to the judges to not yield to pressure from Muslim hardline groups.
"We came here to show that Ahok is not alone. Indonesia is for everyone... not only for one particular group," a speaker said, describing Indonesia's principle of pluralism for the nation's hundreds of ethnic groups regardless of their faith.
Some supporters of the Jakarta governor carried banners that read:"We are Muslims that forgive Ahok".
During his blasphemy trial last Tuesday (Dec 13), Mr Basuki, an ethnic Chinese Christian, broke into tears as he said he had not intended to insult Islam when he made comments about his election opponents' use of the Quran.
The 50-year-old had allegedly cited the Quran and told residents in Kepulauan Seribu district not to be misled by his opponents, who claimed that the Holy Book forbids Muslims from electing a non-Muslim leader. A video of the event posted online has since gone viral.
Mr Basuki said he has many Muslim friends and even his adoptive parents are pious Muslims. His adoptive Muslim brother also paid for his college education. He said the allegations levelled against him were tantamount to saying he has insulted his adoptive parents and siblings, whom he loves and who love him.
"I had not intended to interpret Al-Maidah (Quran verse)... or insult Islam and the Muslim clerics. The remarks were meant for unscrupulous politicians who had used the Al-Maidah verse incorrectly because they did not want to compete fairly in the election," said the governor last week.
Mr Basuki had apologised previously for his remarks, but police went ahead with investigations in a bid to defuse tensions.
The governor is running for a second term in the gubernatorial election in February in a three-corner contest against Mr Agus Harimurti, son of former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and Mr Anies Baswedan, former education and culture minister.