If there's a silver lining to former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama's controversial imprisonment for blasphemy, it's that it has served as a wake up call to the reality that fundamentalism is on the rise in Indonesia.
For that reason, esteemed American global affairs publication Foreign Policy has included Ahok in its list of top 100 global thinkers of 2017. Ahok is credited for "standing up to Indonesia's creeping fundamentalism" despite his failed bid for reelection and eventual incarceration this year.
The magazine paints Ahok as a kind of martyr figure for "the country's sometimes-complacent moderate majority" since "by losing his own freedom, Ahok just might encourage others to steer the country back to the middle ground."
While that might be true to an extent, what the magazine didn't mention is how the whole saga surrounding Ahok has polarized Indonesians on both sides of the political spectrum.
Ahok's opponents have continued using religious identity politics and divisive tactics to gain and consolidate power, perhaps best highlighted by Ahok's successor, Anies Baswedan, giving the opening speech at a "reunion event" for a massive anti-Ahok rally organized by Islamic hardliners – who played an instrumental part in Ahok's imprisonment and defeat in the election – in the heart of Jakarta.
Furthermore, hardliners and fundamentalists have been emboldened by the toppling of Ahok and conservatism is still very much on the rise – a recent survey showed that more and more Indonesians are becoming open to the country implementing sharia law.
In any case, Ahok was the only Indonesian to make Foreign Policy's list this year where he was included alongside of the Women of the #MeToo Movement, Britain's opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn and French President Emmanuel Macron.