Muslim Cleric Sentenced to Five Months for Calling Bible Untrue

01/16/2022 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – A Muslim cleric arrested last August for insulting Christianity in one of his sermons, calling the Bible “fictitious” and untrue, has been sentenced to five months in prison and a fine of 50 million rupiah (US$3,600).

Muhammad Yahya Waloni, 51, a Christian-turned-Muslim, was convicted by the South Jakarta District Court on Jan. 11 of posting hate speech online that could cause interreligious divisions.

According to UCA News, Petrus Selestinus, a Catholic layman and chairman of a lawyers’ group, said Waloni had got off lightly as he was eligible for release almost immediately for time served since August last year while on remand.

“Blasphemy can carry sentences of up to five years in Indonesia and violating cyber laws can carry six years, so five months in prison smacks of injustice and discrimination in favor of the defendant,” Selestinus said after the sentencing.

While the abusive blasphemy laws in Indonesia should be abolished altogether so people of faith, especially religious minorities, are not criminalized for their beliefs, the fact that Waloni is sentenced to five months, while cases against Christians, such as former Jakarta governor Ahok or Abraham Ben Moses slapped them with years of imprisonment, it shows the inconsistent standard embedded in Indonesia’s legal system.