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Christian Politician in Indonesia Faces Imprisonment for Hate Speech

01/13/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – An Indonesian protestant politician could face up to 10 years of incarceration for offensive comments against Islam he made on Twitter.

Ferdinand Hutahaean, a Democrat Party politician, was arrested by the police on January 10, after his January 4 tweet was reported by two individuals as offensive to Islam to the police.

His tweet reads, “It is a pity that your God is evidently weak [and] must be defended. My God is amazing, [he] is everything. He is always my defender, and my God does not need to be defended.”

Although Hutahaean later apologized in a video, saying his earlier tweet was “an imaginary dialogue between my heart and mind” and had nothing to do with a certain group or religion, the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Agency named Ferdinand Hutahaean a suspect in a hate speech case and detained him immediately after hours of investigation.

He will be kept at the Police Headquarters Detention Center for the next 20 days to ensure he does not escape or destroy evidence. Once charged, he can face a maximum sentence of 10 years.

The General Secretary of Regional Council of the Alumni Corps of the Islamic Student Association (MW Kahmi) Jaya, M. Amin applauds the police’s swift action in arresting Hutahaean. He said, “Don’t make fun of Ethnicity, Religion, Race and Intergroup Relations (SARA). Moreover, the name of Allah is definitely not to be played with. We must take care of each other amid the plurality of this nation, which we love so much. Different religions are required to respect each other.”

Hutahaean joins the list of other Christians recently arrested and detained for insulting Islam on social media, such as Joseph Suyardi and Muhammad Kace. In Muslim-majority Indonesia, non-Muslims are easily targeted and charged of blasphemy in Indonesia, while Muslims committing similar offenses hardly receive any punishment for their actions.

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