Celebrity musician, failed politician and Nazi-apparel aficionado Ahmad Dhani was just sentenced to 1.5 years in prison in January for hate speech and today he was found guilty of hate speech, yet again, at the conclusion of a completely separate criminal trial that centered on his use of the word “idiot” in a video he published on social media.
“First, the defendant, Ahmad Dhani Prasetyo, has been proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing the crime, which was deliberately distributing videos containing insults and defamation. Second, we sentence the defendant to prison for a term of one year,” Surabaya District Court Chief Judge Anton Widyopriyono told the courtroom as quoted by Republika.
Specifically, Dhani was found guilty of violating Indonesia’s Law on Electronic Transactions and Information, which makes the electronic dissemination of content that can be considered insulting or defamatory to another party a crime.
Today’s guilty verdict stems from an incident that took place in August of last year, when Dhani attended an event in support of the #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangeThePresident) opposition movement in Surabaya. Members of Banser, the youth wing of Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia and the world’s largest Muslim organization, came to protest the event, preventing Dhani and his colleagues from leaving their hotel. At one point, in a vlog posted by Dhani to his social media account, the musician called the protesters “idiots” to express his frustration.
That remark angered Banser after the vlog went viral and Dhani was soon reported to the police for hate speech. By October, the East Java Provincial Police had named him a suspect in the case.
Dhani’s January conviction for hate speech was over a series of tweets that were posted to his official Twitter account, @AHMADDHANIPRAST.
The tweets related to the politicized allegations of blasphemy against Basuki “BTP” Tjahaja Purnama (aka the former Jakarta Governor formerly known as Ahok). Dhani was reported to the police in March 2017 by members of BTP Network, a group of volunteers working for BTP and former Vice Governor Djarot Saiful Hidayat during their reelection campaign, specifically for a tweet in which he wrote, “Anyone who supports the religious blasphemer is a bastard who needs to be spit on in their faces”.
Following Dhani’s first conviction, fellow conservative politicians from the opposition called for UU ITE to be repealed or changed (even though they were at least partially responsible for its existence in its current form) arguing that, as it did in Dhani’s case, it could impinge on freedom of thought and opinion. It’s a sentiment that rights activists arguing against UU ITE have long expressed.