Police in Indonesia arrest imam allegedly behind call for jihad video

SY (center, in white robe) reciting a modified version of the sacred call to prayer (adhan). Screenshot from video
SY (center, in white robe) reciting a modified version of the sacred call to prayer (adhan). Screenshot from video

Indonesia’s National Police have arrested a man believed to be behind one of the hugely controversial viral videos showing the Islamic sacred adhan (call to prayer) being modified to include a war cry.

The Directorate of Cyber Crime of The National Police’s Crime Investigation Unit (Bareskrim) apprehended a man identified as 22-year-old SY earlier today in Cibadak district, West Java. Police say he’s the imam (person leading the prayer), who also served as the muezzin (a person appointed to recite the adhan), in one video.

The clip showed SY modifying a verse of the call to prayer to include a call for jihad (which literally means “struggle” in Arabic, but has commonly been used in the context for religious crusade). The modified adhan changed the line “ḥayya ʿalā ṣ-ṣalāh” (hasten to the prayer) to “ḥayya alāl jihad” (hasten to jihad).

Police has confiscated several items from SY as evidence — including one cellphone, one long-sleeved white shirt, a sarong, and a white peci (hat traditionally worn by Indonesian Muslim men) that he wore in the video. 

The video, which circulated widely online among several other similar videos earlier this week, outraged muslims in the country and prompted a number of Islamic organizations to issue a statement condemning the modified adhan.

In at least one of the many viral videos, several men were standing behind the muezzin and lifted their machetes and sickles into the air when the modified verse was recited.

Also Read Islamic groups outraged as call to prayer modified to include call for jihad in Indonesia

National Police spokesman Argo Yuwono said the suspect was charged with violation of articles on hate speech and inciting hostility between ethnic groups, religions, and race under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison or a fine of IDR1 billion (US$70,820).

“The crime is that of deliberately spreading information aimed at creating hatred or enmity between individuals or community groups,” Argo told reporters today.

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the highest clerical body in the nation, condemned the modified adhan earlier this week.

“The Prophet [Mohammed] never modified the adhan. Even during war time, the adhan was not changed, so it cannot be changed into a call for jihad,” MUI Chairman Cholil Nafis said.

“We hope the public won’t be provoked by this.”

The video led Indonesian clerics calling on law enforcement to prosecute whoever modified the adhan, saying that the action constitutes blasphemy towards the religion. Previously, hardline group Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) was accused to be behind the video, modifying the adhan as a war cry in solidarity with their leader Rizieq Shihab. However, FPI has denied the allegation.

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CITY: JAKARTACATEGORY: NEWSSUB-CATEGORIES: CRIME, RELIGION, VIRAL

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