Bendigo residents stand behind jailed former Indonesian governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, or Ahok

MEMBERS of Bendigo’s Indonesian and wider community have held a candlelit vigil in support of a former governor who has been jailed for blasphemy.

Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as Ahok, the ex-governor of Jakarta and a minority Christian, has begun serving a two-year prison term for insulting Islam.

The organiser of Sunday’s event, Ifrin Fittock, said that she felt “all members of the local community were deeply sadden by this injustice”.

She said the fundamental principles of the Indonesian philosophy of Pancasila – which included national unity, democracy and social justice – were being undermined.

Supporter Nathan Wingrave said Indonesia’s first president, Dr Sukarno, was a strong believer in religious freedom.

Mr Wingrave said Dr Sukarno said: “Not only should the Indonesian people believe in God, but every Indonesian should believe in his own God”.

The former governor was jailed after he criticised political opponents who had used a Koranic verse to persuade Muslims not to vote for him as a Christian in recent elections.

Even prosecutors said he had not intended to insult Islam, and did not call for jail time.

Other vigils have been held across Australia.