Indonesian Politician Jailed for Blasphemy Seeks a New Identity

(Bloomberg) -- Former Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, serving a jail term on blasphemy charges, no longer wants to be known by his popular Chinese nickname Ahok and instead prefers to be known by his initials BTP.

In a letter to his supporters ahead of his release from prison next week, Purnama said he was grateful to God for his defeat in the Jakarta gubernatorial election and the jail term. If he could turn back the clock and chose, he would still prefer the jail sentence over “ruling the City Hall for five years,” which would have made him only “more arrogant and ruder,” he said in the letter posted on his Instagram page.

Indonesian Politician Jailed for Blasphemy Seeks a New Identity

“I am very grateful to God, the creator of heaven and earth, for being imprisoned. If I were re-elected in the gubernatorial election, I would have been a man who controlled the City Hall, but in here I learned to control myself forever,” Purnama wrote.

Ahok is the Hakka Chinese name given to Purnama by his father and intended to predict the bearer’s success, the Jakarta Post reported.

An ethnic Chinese Christian and a one-time ally of President Joko Widodo, Purnama was convicted of blasphemy for comments he made about the Koran, and jailed for two years. He lost the election to Anies Baswedan after a campaign marred by religious tensions.

The conservative Muslim groups, which organized massive protests to seek Purnama’s jailing, are now rallied behind Prabowo Subianto, who’s challenging Widodo, known as Jokowi, in the presidential election scheduled on April 17.

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