Indonesia jails woman who was recorded on TikTok reciting 'bismillah' before eating pork

Indonesia jails woman who was recorded on TikTok reciting 'bismillah' before eating pork
Indonesia jails woman who was recorded on TikTok reciting 'bismillah' before eating pork

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Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - File picture shows supporters of Jakarta Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, protesting outside Cipinang Prison, where he was taken following his conviction of blasphemy in Jakarta, Indonesia May 9, 2017. — Reuters pic

JAKARTA, Sept 20 — An Indonesian court sentenced a woman to two years in prison this week for violating the country's blasphemy law after she posted a video on social media site TikTok in which she said a Muslim prayer before eating pork.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority nation in the world and pork is considered 'haram,' or not permissible, under Islam.

Lina Lutfiawati, also known as Lina Mukherjee, who identifies as being Muslim according to court documents, posted a video TikTok in March in which she said the prayer, which translates to 'in the name of God', before eating crispy pork skin.

The court in the Indonesian city of Palembang, on Sumatra island, sentenced Lina for her actions on Tuesday and found she deliberately "spread information that was intended to incite hate or individual/group enmity based on religion," according to a court document.

It ordered her to pay a fine of 250 million rupiah (US$16,249.59).

Critics have said Indonesia's strict blasphemy laws have been used to erode a long-standing reputation for tolerance and diversity in the Southeast Asian country.

After the trial, Lina told reporters that she was surprised with the verdict.

"I know that I am wrong but I did not expect this punishment," Lina said on the local news station MetroTV.

Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said the blasphemy article in Indonesian law has been abused to target minority groups and dissenters.

"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," he said.

The blasphemy law has mostly been used against those deemed to have insulted Islam, including Jakarta's former Christian governor Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 for blasphemy, on charges widely seen as politically motivated.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), a top body of clerics, told the court that Lina's action was blasphemous against Islam, according to the court document. — Reuters

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