An Indonesian court has handed down a two-year prison sentence and a substantial fine, to a woman who gained attention on TikTok for reciting “Bismillah” a prayer before consuming pork an act that goes against the teachings of Islam in a predominantly Muslim country. Lina Mukherjee, 33 was found guilty of “spreading information with the intention to incite hatred towards individuals and specific groups” by a court in Palembang, South Sumatra.
The viral video featuring Mukherjee garnered millions of views. Depicted here reciting a prayer that translates to “in the name of God” or “Bismillah” prior to indulging in crispy pork skin. She was reported by a resident which eventually led to her arrest and subsequent conviction.
Indonesias Blasphemy Law
Blasphemy is strictly forbidden under Indonesia’s Criminal Code, which specifically targets expressions that intentionally convey feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt towards religions with the aim of dissuading others from practicing any religion. Additionally, this law also addresses actions that bring disgrace upon a religion.
Accordingly violating Article 156(a) can result in up to five years imprisonment. However, Indonesia’s blasphemy law has faced criticism for being used against religious minorities as well as curbing freedom of expression. Instances have been reported where individuals expressing opinions seen as disrespectful, towards Islam—Indonesia religion—have been prosecuted using this law.
Women’s Arrest Rates in Indonesia
In Indonesia, women can be. Imprisoned for offenses, such, as blasphemy. The percentage of arrests for crimes in Indonesia has increased from about 12% in 1980 to nearly 20% in 2016. Interestingly when it comes to property-related crimes women account for a proportion of arrests (32%) compared to offenses (23%) and drug-related offenses (22%). Analyzing the data on female arrest rates by race/ethnicity reveals a decline across all races with non-white women experiencing decreases.
Lina Mukherjee’s case is one example of convictions for blasphemy in Indonesia that have gained significant attention. The country’s blasphemy law has faced criticism for its alleged targeting of minorities. Suppressing freedom of expression.
It’s important to note that women in Indonesia are also at risk of arrest and imprisonment for offenses including blasphemy. This particular case highlights the need for reforming Indonesia’s blasphemy law and ensuring the protection of freedom of expression and religion, for all individuals regardless of their gender or religious beliefs.