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Indonesia's slide towards identity politics - Abusing blasphemy legislation

Indonesia's slide towards identity politics - Abusing blasphemy legislation

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However, a rumour spread in her neighbourhood that Meiliana wanted adzan to be banned altogether. This rumour provoked public anger and in the week that followed vigilantes burned down numerous Buddhist temples. Eight rioters were arrested and convicted, receiving jail terms of one to four months.After investigating the riot, the local police described Meiliana as the provocateur and formally accused her of blasphemy. However, in August 2016 the director of the Criminal Investigation Agency of the Indonesian National Police (Bareskrim Polri) stated that Meilianaʹs request that the volume of the mosqueʹs loudspeakers be reduced did not amount to blasphemy. As a consequence, six months after Meiliana complained about the noise from the mosque, the police were yet to lay a charge for blasphemy.

Vigilante pressure

Within the same period, a series of mass rallies in Jakarta were organised by a vigilante group, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), along with Ahokʹs political opponents to pressure the police to declare Ahok a blasphemy suspect.This inspired the Alliance of the Students and Independent Communities (Aliansi Mahasiswa dan Masyarakat Independent Bersatu) in North Sumatra to request a fatwa from the Indonesian Council of Islamic Scholars (MUI) of Tanjungbalai region in early January 2017, stating that Meiliana has insulted Islam.