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Indonesia seeks stiff sentence for Christian YouTuber

Some may find Kace’s words overly harsh, in poor taste, and contrary to the spirit of love that characterizes Christianity. The harsh sentence he faces, however, is an outrage to the principle of the freedom of conscience.

Christians are a tiny, embattled minority in Indonesia, as in other countries. There is a small and courageous community of Orthodox Christians in Indonesia, numbering around 2500 people.

For previous coverage of the persecution of Christians in Indonesia, see here.

“Indonesia seeks stiff sentence for Christian YouTuber,” by Katharina R. Lestari, UCA News, February 25, 2022:

Prosecutors in Indonesia have demanded a 10-year jail term for a Christian YouTuber accused of insulting Islam.

The move drew criticism from a rights group that said the demand was harsh and discriminatory considering a Muslim recently convicted of a similar offense against Christians received only five months.

Muhammad Kace, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, is on trial for uploading hundreds of videos insulting Islam on social media.

He has been detained since last August after his arrest in Badung district of Bali province following a slew of complaints by Muslim groups after one YouTube video in which he said: “Muhammad is unknown by God and is only known by his followers because he is surrounded by devils.”.

He has uploaded at least 400 videos on YouTube insulting Islam, according to police.

Kace uploaded the videos intentionally to stir public unrest, chief prosecutor Syahnan Tanjung told Ciamis District Court in West Java province. “This is outrageous, so it warrants a stiff sentence,” he said.

Instead of invoking Indonesia’s blasphemy law, prosecutors are looking to prosecute Kace for spreading fake information or news to intentionally causes public unrest, which carries a 10-year sentence instead of the maximum five years that blasphemy carries.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, deputy chairman of the Jakarta-based rights group Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, called the demand harsh and questioned why the blasphemy charge had not been laid. “Why did they change the charge?” he asked.

He accused authorities of adopting double standards by referring to a similar case involving Muhammad Yahya Waloni, a Muslim convert from Christianity who was sentenced in January to five months in prison by South Jakarta District Court for committing blasphemy against Christians.

Waloni was convicted of posting hate speech online that could cause interreligious divisions. The Muslim cleric claimed the Bible was a work of fiction in one of his sermons posted on YouTube.

Naipospos called on authorities not to bow to public pressure and apply such laws equally without discrimination….

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