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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Indonesian TikTok influencer sentenced to two years in jail

Lina Lutfiawati, a popular Indonesian TikTok influencer who identifies as Muslim, has been sentenced to two years in jail.

Lina Lutfiawati, a popular Indonesian TikTok influencer who identifies as Muslim, has been sentenced to two years in jail and faces a substantial fine for a viral video where she consumed pork, a forbidden act in Islam, while uttering an Islamic phrase. This incident has sparked discussions about the use and implications of blasphemy laws in the Muslim-majority nation.

Viral TikTok Video

Lina Lutfiawati, also known as Lina Mukherjee, achieved fame on TikTok with over two million followers due to her engaging content. In March, she posted a video that would change her life. While in Bali, a predominantly Hindu region in Indonesia, she filmed herself saying “Bismillah,” an Arabic phrase meaning “in the name of God,” before tasting crispy pork skin out of curiosity. The video quickly went viral, garnering millions of views and widespread criticism.

Read More: Navigating blasphemy laws in the digital age: The case of Lina Mukherjee

Charges and Controversy

The controversy surrounding Lina Lutfiawati’s video intensified when an Indonesian individual reported her to the police for “knowingly eating pork skin as a Muslim.” This led to her arrest and subsequent charges for disseminating hateful information, with authorities framing her actions as an act of hostility over ethnicity, religion, and race.

In response to her video, various conservative groups, including Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, the Ulema Council, issued rulings condemning it as blasphemous. The case ignited debates on social media, with opinions sharply divided. Some praised the judge’s decision and considered Lina’s actions blasphemous, while others criticized the jail sentence, pointing out the discrepancy in punishment severity compared to corruption cases.

Blasphemy Laws in Indonesia

The Lina Lutfiawati case is not the first instance where Indonesia’s blasphemy laws have stirred controversy. Rights groups and activists have long criticized these laws, arguing that they are frequently misused to target religious minorities. The case of Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, the former governor of Jakarta, who was jailed in 2017 for remarks deemed insulting to Islam, is another prominent example.

Public Reaction

Public reaction to Lina Lutfiawati’s sentencing has been mixed. On one hand, many view her actions as offensive and disrespectful to Islam, supporting the judicial decision. On the other hand, some have voiced concerns about the severity of her punishment, particularly in comparison to corruption cases, where jail terms are often perceived as lenient. This controversy has reignited discussions about the appropriate use of blasphemy laws in Indonesia.

International Scrutiny

The Lina Lutfiawati case has also drawn international attention, with human rights organizations closely monitoring the situation. The international community has expressed concern about the freedom of expression and religious tolerance in Indonesia, calling for a more measured approach in enforcing blasphemy laws to protect individual rights.

Read More: TikTok ‘Egg Challenge’: How Far Will Influencers Go for Likes?

The case of Lina Lutfiawati underscores the challenges and controversies surrounding blasphemy laws in Indonesia. As a diverse nation with a complex cultural and religious landscape, finding a balance between protecting religious sensitivities and safeguarding freedom of expression remains a contentious issue. The outcome of this case will likely continue to fuel discussions about the role and application of blasphemy laws in Indonesia and their implications for religious minorities and individual rights. It is a reminder that in an era of rapid social media proliferation, even seemingly innocuous actions can lead to significant legal consequences and societal debates.