Indonesian Instagram influencer Salmafina Sunan has become the subject of intense public scrutiny — aided in no small party by the local media — over personal decisions regarding her faith.
The 19-year-old daughter of celebrity lawyer Sunan Kalijaga is known for the public criticism she’s received over choices made in her private life, such as her brief marriage to a young ustadz (Islamic cleric), as well as her choice of taking off her hijab after the divorce. Earlier this year, Salmafina and her father almost sued her friend for unintentionally showing her underwear in a viral video.
This time, Salmafina is under scrutiny for allegedly converting from Islam to Christianity. Last week, footage of her wearing a cross necklace and crying while praying at a church mass went viral, as seen on the second slide below:
Salmafina has reportedly cut off communication with her family in what appears to be a stressful time for all of them. Her father has expressed his sadness about Salmafina converting to another religion, which is considered one of the biggest sins in Islam.
Despite the apparent distress suffered by Salmafina in her private life, that hasn’t stopped the Indonesian media from milking the story and turning it into a soap opera-esque drama — one in which she’s being painted as a villain for leaving Islam.
That can easily be seen in the headlines of local media outlets, which include words such as “busted” and “caught” in their reports on Salmafina:
“Dikabarkan pindah agama, Salmafina Sunan kepergok hadiri kebaktian (Rumored to have converted, Salmafina Sunan was caught attending mass)” – Kumparan
“Terciduk ibadah di gereja, Salmafina Sunan lari tunggang-langgang (Busted praying at a church, Salmafina Sunan ran away)” – Suara.
As of this afternoon, both media outlets have revised their headlines, hopefully after realizing how ethically reprehensible they were before.
But the damage has been done and netizens have called the media out for their unfair reporting and breaching the young woman’s privacy.
Kalian dateng ke JPCC, pas jam orang keluar ibadah, dan kalian gunakan kata "kepergok" di judul berita kalian. Really, @kumparan? You really need to go "that" low?
— #txtdarijonathan (@senorjoey) July 14, 2019
“You came to JPCC (the church Salmafina allegedly went to), at a time when people had just finished praying, and you used the word ‘kepergok’ (busted) in your headline. Really, @kumparan? You really need to go ‘that’ low?”
Fucking embarrassing tabloid making light of people's issue with privacy and freedom of choosing their religions. She's an adult, and having period where her faith is being challenged is her spiritual path.https://t.co/MsnvVYqTFs
— Ridwan Saja (@gato_pemula) July 14, 2019
Apakah ibadah di gereja adalah satu hal yg ternoda sehingga pilihan kata yang diambil adalah "terciduk" dan "tunggang-langgang"?
Isi kepala jurnalis dan redaktur Suara dot Com ini terpapar jelas dlm pilihan judul mereka.https://t.co/bvVSR611rF
— 𝕂𝕖𝕟 ℕ𝕕𝕒𝕣𝕦 (@kenndaru) July 14, 2019
“Busted???? Is praying in church so disgraceful so the choice of word was ‘busted’ and ‘running away’? The inside of the heads of Suara dot com’s journalists and editors are exposed vividly in their choice of titles.”
In the midst of all the chaos, Salmafina today posted a story on Instagram saying that she has finally found peace by connecting with God.
“I used to be a broken, pathetic, suicidal person. I look for my Creator (God) because He is the one who can correct my life. If God was the one who called, let Him be the one who gets troubled,” Salmafina wrote.