Indonesian Christian jailed for Facebook post 'insulting' Islam
An Indonesian Christian has been sentenced to four years in prison for a Facebook post that likened the prophet Muhammad to a pig in the latest conviction under a controversial hate-speech law.
Dozens of Islamic hardliners cheered and shouted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great) as the court in Sumatra ruled that Martinus Gulo was hostile toward Muslims in his post, which also said Mohammed sanctioned bestiality. The Medan District court on Tuesday ordered the 21-year-old university student to pay a fine of one billion rupiah ($70,000) or spend an additional six months in jail. "Finding the defendant guilty of misusing information by offending believers through his Facebook account, I sentence him to four years," said presiding judge Saidin Bagariang.
Gulo was convicted under Indonesia's electronic information and transactions law, which makes it a crime to spread "hatred or animosity" against an individual or group based on their race or religion. The law has been criticised for being unnecessarily vague and giving powerful individuals the ability to criminalise critics and minorities. He was arrested in March after the militant Islamic Defenders Front reported his online post to police.
Gulo, who is Christian, told authorities that he made the post because he was upset that his own religion was criticised online. Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim-majority country, has significant numbers of Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and other minorities. Gulo's conviction comes after a 39-year-old Muslim was sentenced to five years in April under the same law. The court found him guilty of spreading hate speech for a Facebook post in which he claimed to have experienced God's presence and questioned the faith of other Muslims.
Last year, Jakarta's former governor – the city's first Christian leader of Chinese descent – was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy. The case fuelled concerns that Indonesia's moderate brand of Islam is coming under threat from increasingly influential radicals. (AFP)