A man from Surabaya, East Java has been charged with blasphemy for altering the lyrics to an Islamic song and mocking its message in the process, local police say.
On April 14, the suspect, who is identified by his initial B, uploaded a video on Instagram in which he sang the hit contemporary religious song Aisha Istri Rasulullah (Aisha the wife of the Prophet) while altering a portion of the lyrics to suggest that Aisha drank wine with her husband. B also appeared to be drinking wine in the video.
B was arrested the following day and has since been charged with blasphemy. He may face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
“I apologize, I know I was wrong and I regret singing the song. I apologize to Islam for having done wrong, especially as it is my religion,” B said while in tears during a press conference at the Surabaya Police HQ today, as quoted by Kumparan.
According to the police, B was intoxicated with a friend when making the video. Police did not indicate whether or not they would find the friend to be an accomplice in the crime.
Blasphemy is a serious crime in Indonesia, but vague wordings in its legislation has made it prone to be used as a political tool and to persecute religious minorities in recent years. Arguably the most infamous blasphemy conviction was given to former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 simply for warning the public not to trust officials who quote the Quran to convince them not to vote for non-Muslim politicians.
Since Ahok’s case, application of the blasphemy law spiked dramatically in Indonesia, but the vast majority of charges and convictions under the law were used against members of minority religious faiths who allegedly blasphemed Islam, and rarely the other way around.
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