Franklin Graham has said that the imprisonment of the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama - better known by his nickname Ahok, is a "total miscarriage of justice" and evidence that "Islam wants domination".
Graham, the leader of Samaritan's Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, weighed in on the case just after Ahok was found guilty of blaspheming the Quran and sentenced to two years in prison.
"Jakarta, Indonesia, had a rare and beautiful thing in their country-a Christian governor," Graham began. "Governor Ahok was known for his honest and capable governance, but Islam wants domination, and they wanted him politically out of the picture. Hard-line Islamists won the last election and have held mass rallies calling for his imprisonment. This is a total miscarriage of justice."
He added, "Indonesia is the world's largest Muslim nation, but it is also home to millions of Christians. Pray for former Governor Ahok, for his family, and for Christians facing this kind of persecution every day throughout the Islamic world."
In announcing its decision on Tuesday, the five-judge panel said Ahok was "convincingly proven guilty of blasphemy" and ordered his arrest, according to reports. Head judge Dwiarso Budi Santiarto told the court Ahok was "found to have legitimately and convincingly conducted a criminal act of blasphemy, and because of that we have imposed two years of imprisonment".
The governor was then taken to Cipinang Prison in east Jakarta, local media reported. He said he would immediately appeal the court's decision.
Ahok, who is is ethnic Chinese and the first Christian in nearly 50 years to govern Indonesia's capital, was found guilty of violating Indonesia's blasphemy laws during a speech to fishermen in September.
In that address, he reportedly cited a verse from the Quran that warns Muslims against taking Christians and Jews as allies. At the time, he quipped that due to Indonesia's transition to democracy in 1999, it was perfectly acceptable for Muslim voters to choose a Christian in the election for governor in February.
Ahok continually denied the charges, and said his comments were aimed at politicians "incorrectly" using the Koranic verse against him, as reported by The Gospel Herald, and insisted his alleged remarks were not directed at the verse itself. Nevertheless, the trial drew hundreds of thousands to anti-Ahok protests across Jakarta, with hardline Muslim groups demanding that he resign.
Critics have said the blasphemy case was undeniably a "decisive factor" in Ahok's defeat to a Muslim candidate in last month's election.
Last year, Graham, who will this week host the World Summit in Defense of Persecuted Christians in Washington, D.C., called on Christians worldwide to rally around the embattled politician.
"We need to pray for the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki 'Ahok' Tjahaja Purnama, who is on trial for what the Muslim's are calling blasphemy, which is ridiculous," Graham wrote. "He's the first non-Muslim governor of the Indonesian capital in more than half a century. They're coming after him because he's a Christian. Hard line Muslim groups have organized protests against him and some have even called for him to be lynched. This is the kind of persecution that is going on around the world in countries that are controlled by Islam. Pray for this man and his family."