Jakartan arrested for using Facebook to call for further violence after attacks on Tanjung Balai Buddhist temples

The heinous mob attacks on several Buddhist temples in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra last Saturday drew many negative reactions from netizens who largely condemned the violence.

However, there were still many who stated their support for the violent display of intolerance. One keyboard warrior in Jakarta even called on others to draw inspiration from the Tanjung Balai attacks to commit further violence in a post that quickly got spread on social media.

“Violence in Tanjung Balai, Medan on July 30, 2016, six temples were burned down, my Muslim brothers and sisters join the ranks… We’ll repeat the ’98 tragedy, Allahu Akbar,” Ahmad Taufik wrote in a Facebook post on July 31, as picked up by Tempo.

It turns out that Ahmad Taufik isn’t even from Tanjung Balai and there is no indication that he was directly involved in Saturday’s violence. In fact, he is actually a citizen of Jakarta.

Yesterday morning, the Jakarta Metro Police’s Cyber Crime Unit arrested Ahmad, 41, in his home in Jagakarsa on charges of hate speech, accusing him of using social media to provoke further inter-religious violence. Ahmad may face a maximum of 6 years in prison and a maximum fine of Rp 1 billion if he is found guilty.

However, Ahmad has been temporarily released from police custody as he is still recovering from a stroke he suffered recently.

A total of 18 people have been named suspects in relation to the Tanjung Balai temples attacks so far.

While Indonesia’s hate speech laws are often criticized for limiting freedom of speech, its use in this case is arguably necessary as Ahmad’s actions could directly lead to more violence. Furthermore, members of the intolerant minority he belongs to are undoing the work of many others who are doing their part to preserve harmony and tolerance, such as the Muslim students who voluntarily helped to clean and rebuild the temples following the attacks.


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