05/07/2018 Washington D.C. – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on May 7, the Tangerang District Court in Indonesia sentenced Reverend Abraham Ben Moses to four years in prison and issued him a 50 million Rupiah fine (~3,500 USD) for religious defamation.
If he cannot afford to pay the fine, “it can be replaced with a one-month prison term and we also give the defendant a chance to refuse the verdict seven days from tomorrow to appeal to the High Court,” said presiding judge Muhammad Damis at the hearing.
According to Voice of the Martyrs, Reverend Abraham, 53, is a well-known former Muslim and Christian apologist in Indonesia. As part of his ministry, he is involved with online evangelism and debates with local Muslim groups.
Abraham was arrested on December 5, 2017, after a video went viral that depicted him sharing his faith with a Muslim taxi driver. In the video, he speaks with the taxi driver about converting to Christianity and the Prophet Muhammad’s flawed teachings on marriage.
Members of Indonesia’s second largest Islamic organization, Muhammadiyah, immediately lodged a complaint against him on December 8.
According to Jakarta Post, Damis said that “Abraham was convicted under Electronic and Information Transactions Law No. 11/2008 as he intentionally spread information intended to incite hatred against an individual, group and society based on religion.”
Although the verdict was more lenient than the prosecutors’ demand of a five-year prison term, Abraham’s legal team plans to file for an appeal.
A Muhammadiyah official Pedri Kasman admitted that he was content about the verdict. “This decision should be appreciated and should serve as a valuable lesson for all parties,” he said.
In a message to Indonesian Christians, Abraham’s wife Sara Ibrahim asked Christians to “pray for pastor Abraham’s punishment to be lighter.”
Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “The Indonesian government should revisit the country’s blasphemy law, as it is increasingly being exploited by radical Muslim groups to target individuals who they find to be offensive and theologically ‘out-of-line.’ To honor religious freedom as enshrined in Indonesia’s constitution, the government must respect all religions and stop criminalizing Christians when they are merely exercising their right to free speech.”
For interviews with Gina Goh, Regional Manager, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org