Islamic group to report former child singer Joshua Suherman for alleged blasphemy during stand up performance

Joshua Suherman during a stand up comedy performance in December 2017. Photo: Instagram/@jojosuherman
Joshua Suherman during a stand up comedy performance in December 2017. Photo: Instagram/@jojosuherman

Few would have guessed that the next high-profile blasphemy case in Indonesia, after that of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, would involve the former child singer famous for such adorable hits as “Diobok-obok” and “Cit Cit Cuit” in the ‘90s.

Now 25 years old, Joshua Suherman has still remained in the public limelight by appearing in several movies and TV shows. But he’s likely to be propelled to religious-based infamy like Ahok was for his stab at doing stand up comedy recently.

Today, an Islamic group called the People of Islam Unite Forum (FUIB) plans on filing a formal blasphemy complaint to the National Police against Joshua over his stand up material that they perceived to be offensive to Islam, footage of which has circulated online recently.

In the clip above, Joshua asked his audience why Anisa, a former member of the girl group Cherrybelle, was more famous than her colleagues, including the group’s leader at the time, Cherly Juno.

“Back then, all men’s eyes were on Anisa. All on Anisa. Their singing skills were similar, their dancing similar, and beauty is relative, right? I asked myself why Anisa was always more popular than Cherly, and now I found the answer. That’s why Che (Cherly), (you gotta be a) Muslim!” he said to the roaring laughter of fellow comedians and the audience.

Joshua, himself a minority Christian in Indonesia, went on to say, “In Indonesia, there’s one thing that can’t be defeated by any talent, however big: the majority.”

Regardless of whether or not Joshua’s words contained any truth, the FUIB took it as an insult towards their religion and are seeking legal action.

“Life in Indonesia is filled with Pancasila (nation’s ideology) principles. We must respect all religions,” said FUIB head Rahmat Imran, as quoted by CNN Indonesia yesterday.

Indonesia’s controversial and highly-subjective blasphemy law has been used to convict and jail more than 100 people in the last 15 years, most of them belonging to minority beliefs. Human rights activists believe the law — violation of which can be punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment — has been used as an effective criminalization tool in politics and struggle for power, such as in the two-year imprisonment of the Chinese-Christian Ahok for blasphemy against Islam, the trial for which was carried out while he was running for reelection for the Jakarta governor post.

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