Jakarta: Islamic cleric reported to police for mocking Christian symbols

Indonesia's blasphemy law has mostly been used to prosecute members of religious minorities

Thursday 22 August, JAKARTA - Abdul Somad, a popular Islamic cleric, is facing a series of blasphemy charges after a video went viral showing him telling a crowd that the Christian crucifix is the dwelling place for an 'infidel jinn.'

Blasphemy accusations on a preacher of Islam, the religion of over 80 percent of Indonesians, has put a new spin on the country's problematic blasphemy law, which in the past has mostly been used to prosecute members of religious minorities.

The video, which was uploaded on Saturday, showed the cleric talking about the figure of Jesus on the cross to a rapt audience.

'A woman asked me once, "Why do I get the chills whenever I think about a crucifix?" Because there is an infidel jinn in the crucifix, because of the statue of Christ on it. We should never worship a statue,' Somad said in the video. 

'If we [Muslims] had to stay in a hospital and we see a crucifix there, cover it up, or we will die as an infidel. We should not let ourselves be transported in an ambulance with a crucifix on it, or let people sing "Hallelujah" to us. God forbid, we would die as an infidel,' he said in the video.

The video has sparked an angry reaction from Christians across Indonesia. Several organizations have already filed blasphemy charges to the police against the cleric.

Editor's comment - Usually the blasphemy laws only go one way - that is, to persecute non-Muslims in Muslim-majority lands, so it will be interesting to see how this is dealt with by the authorities. Indonesia has been trying hard to present itself as 'the moderate face of Islam' but Sharia is never far away under the surface.

Although to be fair, I don't like it when Mrs. B. sings 'Hallelujah' to me either. But then maybe that's because she has a voice that could stop traffic on a busy intersection.

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