In May, an Indonesian woman, Lutfiawati was sentenced to jail for two years, and faced a £13,155 fine over the content of her TikTok video posted in March. In this video, she said the Islamic phrase “Bismillah” and ate pork.
The viral video has been strongly condemned by the Muslim-majority country. The Indonesian court in Palembang has found her guilty of 'spreading information aimed at inciting hatred against religious individuals and specific groups', and if she does not pay her fine, her sentence will be extended by three months.
The country prosecutes behavioural crimes. Therefore, her sentence is the product of insulting the country’s majority religion of Islam. As Islam forbids the consumption of pork, (considering this act haram), Lutfiawati tried this meat in the Hindu-majority population of Bali, Indonesia.
The Arabic prayer and phrase "Bismillah" means "in the name of God". Consequentially her multi-million-viewed video was reported by a resident for "knowingly eating pork skin as a Muslim".
On the prosecution of her actions, Lutfiawati commented on MetroTV, “I know that I am wrong but I did not expect this punishment”.
The case of Lutfiawati is the most recent in a series of blasphemy trials taking place in Indonesia.
In Indonesia, the Criminal Code (KUHP) law outlaws the bad behaviour of citizens, such as the act of insulting. This is also applicable to social media, monitored by Law Number 11 of 2008 concerning Information and Electronic Transactions, or the ITE Law.
This behavioural law has faced immense backlash from Indonesian human rights activists because it frequently prosecutes minorities of the population, predominantly those who do not subscribe to the majority religion of Islam. Over the last nine years, there have been hundreds of people who have been prosecuted under the ITE Law.
Previous arrests over behavioural crimes include:
In 2022, six people were arrested by police for promoting free alcohol at a bar, because alcohol is prohibited in the religion of Islam.
In 2020, nine men in Indonesia were arrested for holding a “gay party”. This is one of many occurrences of gay persecution. Indonesian authorities find homosexuality “immoral”, and the country’s police force has a special task force to investigate alleged homosexual activity.
In 2017, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (Jakarta's former governor) was jailed for almost two years because he stated online that the Quran was deceiving people to vote against him, which the Court deemed “a criminal act of blasphemy”.
Usman Hamid, the Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia, has expressed how the law has been abused in order to crush dissent. He said: ”It contravenes Indonesia’s international obligations in relation to respect and protection for freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression”.
Edited by: Anwen Venn
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