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Jakarta Post

Amnesty International urges govt to release blasphemy convict

  • Gemma Holliani Cahya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, May 8, 2018   /   06:30 pm
Amnesty International urges govt to release blasphemy convict In this file photo taken on March 21 Social Network applications including Facebook, Instagram, Slack, Snapchat, Twitter, Skype, Viber , Teamsnap and Messenger, are seen on display on a smartphone. (AFP/Eric Baradat)

Amnesty International has urged the government to release Alnoldy Bahari, a farmer from Pandeglang regency in Banten, who was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay Rp 100 million (US$ 7,150) by Pandeglang District Court on April 30  for blasphemy.

In November last year, Alnoldy was reported by his neighbors who accused him of insulting Islam and spreading hate speech on Facebook.

The offending statements included “I am a Muslim and I truly testify that there is no god but Allah. I have seen Allah, have you?” and “If a fake Muslim cleric has entered the political realm, then Quranic verses are not absolute truth anymore”.

He was arrested in December 2017 and charged with blasphemy under Article 156(a) of the Criminal Code, and Article 28(2) of the Electronic Information and Transaction (ITE) Law.

“Having only peacefully expressed his right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, Alnoldy Bahari is a prisoner of conscience and must be immediately and unconditionally released,” Amnesty International said in an official release on Tuesday.

Amnesty International called on the authorities to immediately and unconditionally release Alnoldy and all other individuals who have been detained solely for peacefully exercising their human rights and also to repeal or amend all blasphemy provisions set out in laws and regulations, which violate the rights to freedom of expression and thought, conscience and religion.

“Also, ensure that judges and prosecutors are aware of Indonesia’s international human rights obligations and the need for the application of national law to be consistent with them,” it further said.

Amnesty International recorded that 11 people were convicted for blasphemy in 2017 either under the ITE Law or the Criminal Code.  Alnoldy was the first to be convicted in 2018.

“Blasphemy laws have been used by the authorities in attempts to stifle the rights to freedom of expression and religion in Indonesia,” the group said. (ebf)