Indonesian politician accused of hate speech

Protestant politician in Indonesia faces jail time after being charged with hate speech for allegedly making offensive comments on social media on religious, ethnic and racial issues.

Ferdinand Hutahaean, a Democratic Party politician who failed to win a seat in the National Assembly in the 2019 parliamentary elections, was arrested on January 10 following an outcry over a Twitter comment in which he would have mocked Muslims by qualifying their God as “weak”.

“Poor you, your God is obviously weak [and] must be defended. My god is amazing [he] is all. He’s my advocate, and my God doesn’t need to be defended, ”the tweet said.

Hutahaean was arrested after two individuals filed police reports against him on January 5, accusing him of insulting Islam.

Police spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan said Hutahaean was charged under the Electronic Information and Transaction Act (ITE) which prohibits hate speech online and carries a penalty of 10 years in prison.

Ramadhan said Hutahaean will be held for 20 days for further investigation.

The tweet was the latest in a series of social media posts that sparked an uproar in Indonesia

Islamic groups including the Ansor Youth Movement (GP Ansor), the youth wing of the country’s largest Islamic group, Nahdlatul Ulama, have welcomed the accusations.

Luqman Hakim, its chairman, said Hutahaean’s arrest was appropriate as the comments “had the potential to divide society.”

In a video later posted to Twitter, Hutahaean apologized for the tweet, saying it was “an imaginary dialogue between my heart and my mind” and had nothing to do with a certain group or religion.

The tweet was the latest in a series of social media posts that sparked an uproar in Indonesia.

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In December last year, Joseph Suryadi, a 39-year-old Christian, was charged with blasphemy for allegedly insulting Islam by comparing the Prophet Muhammad to an alleged child rapist in a social media post.

In August of the same year, police arrested Muhammad Kace, a Christian YouTuber, after a series of complaints filed by Muslims accusing him of blasphemy.

He claimed the Prophet Muhammad was “surrounded by demons and liars” in a video posted on YouTube.

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