‘I did not expect it’: TikTok influencer jailed for saying prayer before eating pork

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Jakarta: An Indonesian court has sentenced a woman to two years in prison 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.

The court ordered Lina Mukherjee to pay a fine of 250 million rupiah ($25,274), on top of the jail sentence.

Lina Lutfiawati, also known as Lina Mukherjee, who identifies as 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 some meat from a plate that also contained crispy pork skin.

The court in Palembang, on Sumatra island, sentenced Lina found she deliberately “spread information that was intended to incite hate or individual/group enmity based on religion” and sentenced her on Tuesday, according to a court document.

It ordered her to pay a fine of 250 million rupiah ($25,274), on top of the jail sentence.

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

After the trial, Lina told reporters she was surprised by 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 the law had 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 law has mostly been used against those deemed to have insulted Islam, including Jakarta’s former governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama, a Christian, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 for blasphemy, on charges widely seen as politically motivated.

The Indonesian Ulema Council, a top body of Islamic scholars, told the court that Lina’s action was blasphemous against Islam, according to the court document.


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