Indonesian TikToker with more than 2 million followers jailed after saying Islamic phrase before eating pork

Indonesian TikToker with more than 2 million followers jailed after saying Islamic phrase before eating pork

Friday 22/09/2023
In the TikTok video, Lutfiawati said "Bismillah" before eating crispy pork skin. (TikTok)

An Indonesian court has sentenced a woman to two years in prison for posting a viral video on TikTok in which she said an Islamic phrase before eating pork.

The court in the Indonesian city of Palembang found Lina Lutfiawati, who has more than 2 million followers on TikTok, guilty of spreading "information that was intended to incite hate".

Lutfiawati posted a video in March in which she said "Bismillah" — an Arabic phrase meaning "in the name of God" — an invocation that is normally said by Muslims before taking an action. She then began eating crispy-skin pork.

In the video, Lutfiawati, who identifies as a Muslim woman, also said she was "curious" to try pork.

In Islam, consuming pig products is considered "haram" or prohibited.

A cleric reported her to the police for a blasphemous action, accusing her of "consciously eating pork skin as a Muslim".

The court also ordered her to pay a fine of 250 million Indonesian rupiah — or more than $25,000.

"I know that I am wrong but I did not expect this punishment," Lutfiawati told a local TV station after the sentencing.

She also asked the court to give her a week to consider the verdict, not ruling out the possibility of an appeal.

During a court hearing last month, Lutfiawati made an apology to "all Indonesian people for causing a commotion".

Controversial blasphemy laws

Social media users in Indonesia were divided over her sentence.

Many asked who was actually harmed by her action and compared the legal punishment to corruption cases, which often attract lighter sentences.

Others said her case was a lesson for influencers and content makers to be more considerate before posting on social media.

Lutfiawati was charged under the controversial law of information and electronic transactions, which covers the dissemination of hateful information or hostility over ethnicity, religion, and race.

Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said the blasphemy article in the law had been abused to target minority groups and dissenters.

"It contravenes Indonesia's international obligations in relation to respect and protection for freedom of thought, conscience and religion or belief, freedom of opinion and expression," he said in a statement.

The law was also used last year when police named several employees of a nightclub as suspects after a promotion offering free alcoholic drinks to patrons named Muhammad and Maria — or Mary — the name of the mother of Jesus.

Alcoholic drinks are also prohibited in Islam and the promotion was seen as making fun of religion.

Seven years ago, Jakarta's former Christian governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, was charged with insulting Islam and sent to jail after citing a verse from the Koran to mock his political opponents during an election campaign.

By Reuters/ABC

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