While President Joko Widodo, an ally of Ahok, has the power to pardon offenders in concert with the Supreme Court under the Indonesian constitution, this is unlikely to happen, Brennan said. Jokowi, as the president is commonly referred to, told local media on Tuesday that the government "cannot interfere with the legal process."
Between 2005 and 2014, a total of 106 individuals have been convicted under Indonesia's blasphemy law, which was introduced in 1965, according to Amnesty International.
The blasphemy law, however, contradicts Article 28E of the Indonesian Constitution, which states that individuals are free to worship the religion of their choice and to freely express their opinions, said Australian Catholic University researcher Dina Afrianty.
"Regimes change but (the) blasphemy law has always been used by majority groups to discriminate or criminalize others," Afrianty said. Post-ruling, it will be worrying if this becomes a precedent for imprisoning those who talk about their religion or the religion of others, she added.
Going forward, the Indonesian government is likely to have to navigate between growing conservative Islamic factions and the country's commitment to pluralism and diversity as it heads to the polls in 2019.
"The Jakarta gubernatorial election result and the Ahok trial verdict will embolden hardline Islamists and indicates their increasing political influence. But it is overstating events to equate this with the death of moderate Islam in Indonesia," Brennan told CNBC.
Afrianty struck a more cautious tone. "This is a serious challenge for the unity of the nation … for Indonesia's Islamic identity (and) Indonesia's justice system," she said, warning that anti-Chinese sentiments could potentially re-emerge.