Christian Governor Of Jakarta Cries As He Denies Insulting Islam

The Christian governor of Jakarta cried as he denied insulting Islam in the first day of his trial for blasphemy.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, often called Ahok, is the first non-Muslim governor of the capital of Indonesia, the most populous Muslim country in the world. He is accused of misusing a Qur'anic verse that suggests Muslims should not be ruled by non-Muslims to boost his public support ahead of February's elections.

Muslims demand the arrest of Jakarta's Governor Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, who is accused of blasphemy.Reuters

Purnama denies the charges and says his comments were aimed at politicians "incorrectly" using the verse against him. He insists his alleged remarks were not aimed at the verse itself, which can be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from living under non-Muslim rule.

It comes after he made a speech in September saying Islamic groups were using the text against him to deceive voters.

If convicted he could face a maximum five-year jail sentence.

His case is seen as a test of religious liberty in Indonesia, which is about 87 per cent Islamic and home to 12.7 per cent of the world's Muslims.

Hundreds of thousands took to the streets to protest against the Chinese born governor but his supporters say a video circulated of his comments has been edited with misleading subtitles to change what he actually said.

Indonesia technically guarantees freedom of religion in its constitution but in reality only six religions are recognise and tough blasphemy laws control debate and target minorities.

Christians represent less than 10 per cent of the 250 million population.