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Indonesian court refuses blasphemy appeal

02 November 2018


Medan, northern Sumatra

Medan, northern Sumatra

A WOMAN who was imprisoned for 18 months in Indonesia, after she was found guilty of blasphemy for allegedly insulting Islam has lost her appeal in the Supreme Court.

The High Court in Medan, in the province of North Sumatra, last week upheld the lower court’s ruling in August against the 44-year-old woman Meliana.

In July 2016, Meliana, a mother of two, asked privately if a mosque’s loudspeakers could be turned down in Tanjung Balai, Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reported.

After the incident, sectarian violence broke out in the town and Buddhist temples were attacked. Meliana practises Buddhism and Christianity, it is reported.

She was questioned after the violence, along with her husband, Lian Tiu. After a campaign by conservative Muslims, her case was reported to the blasphemy law office in Indonesia, and she was detained in May this year, before sentencing.

CSW’s East Asia team leader, Benedict Rogers, said: “The imprisonment of Meliana is a grave miscarriage of justice, and exposes the blatant misuse of the blasphemy laws. Meliana did nothing wrong, and did not insult anyone or any religion. To be jailed simply for asking for the volume on the loudspeakers to be reduced is outrageous and absurd.

“Intolerance in Indonesia is increasing in many ways, and Indonesia’s tradition of pluralism is in grave peril.”

Last year, it was reported that religious minorities were “increasingly fearful” of reprisals because of their faith (News, 4 August 2017).

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