KLIKKIU.NET – The Indonesian Catholic Students Association (PMKRI) has filed charges against Habib Rizieq Shihab in Jakarta on Monday (26/12/2016) following the publication circulated on the internet of a sermon in which Rizieq questioned about the birth of God.
Rizieq Shihab, the leader of the Shariah promotion group the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) is facing criminal charges of violating Indonesia’s laws against blasphemy. In the 22-second long video, Rizieq is recorded saying: “If God gave birth, then who would be the midwife?” The statement was followed by laughter from the audience.
The comment was part of a larger sermon at Pondok Kelapa, West Jakarta on Sunday (25/12/2016), explaining the need to prohibit Muslims from wishing Christians a merry Christmas under Sharia law.
“Rizieq is one of three people reported to the police,” said PMKRI chairman Angelius Wake Kako at the headquarters of the Jakarta Police on Monday.
The two others are Fauzi Ahmad, who uploaded the video of Rizieq’s speech to an Instagram account and Saya Reya, who uploaded the video to a Twitter account.
Angelius said that as a Christian he “felt humiliated and hurt” when he heard the statement.
“All Indonesians should respect diversity by not interfering in the private room of other religions,” he said. “Only Christians know about the Christian faith. Anyone who doesn’t know about it, he better shut up,” he went on to say.
Rizieq is accused of violating Article 156 section (a) of the Criminal Code on blasphemy. The charge carries a maximum punishment of five years in prison, which reads:
By a maximum imprisonment of five years for whosoever in public deliberately expresses their feelings or engages in actions that:
a. in principle is hostile and considered as abuse or defamation of a religion recognized in Indonesia;
b. has the intention that a person should not practice any religion at all that is based on belief in Almighty God.
The law, Amnesty International notes, is most often used against non-Muslims to silence diversity of religion, and was passed “to accommodate requests from Islamic organizations to prohibit mystical indigenous beliefs.”
It is extremely rare for the law to be used to prosecute Muslims for speaking ill of another religion.
On his website, Rizieq issued a statement in which he asserted that he had hosted interfaith dialogues and that “all religious leaders are satisfied and happy” with his conduct in matter of religion. “Rizieq never insulted any religion,” the statement reads, “PMKRI, do not spread slander. Be careful, Muslims can be wrathful and anger can explode… !!!”
In another article on the site responding to the charges, Rizieq’s site calls the charges “cheesy maneuvers” that are “degrading and humiliating to police institutions.”
Novel Bamukmin, secretary general of the Jakarta Branch of the FPI, has threatened to press counter-charges against the Catholics for defamation.
Rizieq’s group, the FPI, advocates for the implementation of strict Sharia law in Indonesia, often by assembling angry Muslim mobs to protest anything the group decides is a threat to Islam. The International Crisis Group has called the FPI “an urban thug organization.”
The government has blocked Rizieq’s website in the past for promoting hate speech, but the group continues to act with relative liberty in Indonesia. The group played a pivotal role, for example, in organizing mobs demanding the arrest of Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian currently on trial for allegedly remarking on a Quranic verse some claim prohibits Muslims from being governed by non-Muslims.
Rizieq reportedly commented at length on the verse in a sermon this week, “loudly… call[ing] on Muslims to choose a Muslim leader,” according to reports.
“The scripture is divine revelation not to be revised and non-negotiable teaching that must be obeyed,” he reportedly told his audience, “While the constitution are the result of human thought. When the constitution is in line with scripture then we, as citizens, obey to the constitution. But when the constitutional clause is contrary to God’s law, it is forbidden for us to obey it.”