RELIGION

Blasphemy trial of Indonesian capital's governor begins

  • Protesters display posters of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok," with writings that read: "Arrest blasphemer" during his trial hearing at a district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Ahok is on trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

    Protesters display posters of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok," with writings that read: "Arrest blasphemer" during his trial hearing at a district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Ahok is on trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)  (The Associated Press)

  • Muslim Protesters shout slogans during a rally outside a court where the trial hearing of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok," is held in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Ahok is on trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

    Muslim Protesters shout slogans during a rally outside a court where the trial hearing of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok," is held in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Ahok is on trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)  (The Associated Press)

  • Police officers are deployed to secure a trial hearing of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok," at a district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Ahok is brought to trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)

    Police officers are deployed to secure a trial hearing of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, popularly known as "Ahok," at a district court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2016. Ahok is brought to trial on accusation of blasphemy following his remark about a passage in the Quran that could be interpreted as prohibiting Muslims from accepting non-Muslims as leaders. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)  (The Associated Press)

The minority Christian governor of the Indonesian capital, who is on trial for alleged blasphemy, sobbed in court on Tuesday as he recalled the role of Muslim godparents in his childhood and said he would never intentionally insult Islam.

It was the first day of a trial that has challenged Indonesia's reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam, shaken the government and exposed religious and racial fault-lines in the world's most populous Muslim nation. It was preceded in the past six weeks by massive protests in the capital Jakarta against the governor.

Gov. Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, an ally of President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, faces up to five years in prison if found guilty. He is the first ethnic Chinese governor of Jakarta and the first Christian in more than half a century.

"As a person who grew up in Islamic circles, is not possible for me to insult Islam," Ahok told the court.

The blasphemy controversy erupted in September when a video circulated online in which Ahok lightheartedly said that people were being deceived if they believed his detractors who asserted that the Quran prohibits Muslims having a non-Muslim leader. He is seeking a second term as governor in elections due February.

Anti- and pro-Ahok groups gathered outside the court but were kept apart by police. The trial is being broadcast live.

A Nov. 4 protest in Jakarta against Ahok turned violent, with one death and dozens injured.