Identity, Equality, Unity
SAMPANG – An Indonesian court sentenced a Shia cleric Thursday to two years in prison for blasphemy, saying his teachings deviated from mainstream Islam and had caused “public anxiety”.
Tajul Muluk was arrested in April by police on the island of Madura off eastern Java amid anti-Shia attacks that rights groups say were led by Sunni Muslims. “Based on witness accounts and evidence presented, the defendant has been proven legally and convincingly guilty of blasphemy causing public anxiety,” chief judge Purnomo Amin Tjahjo told the Sampang district court.
The judge said that Muluk had propagated Shia teachings in his village of Nangkernang, where a nearby branch of the country’s top Islamic clerical council dubbed the denomination “deviant” from mainstream Islam. Muluk said that he would file an appeal against the ruling.
“I feel that my dignity has been crushed. They accused me of being an infidel. I will file an appeal for the sake of my pride,” he told the court. Human Rights Watch (HRW) criticised the court ruling and urged the Indonesian government to immediately release Muluk and repeal the country’s blasphemy laws. The international rights watchdog said that Sunni militants had attacked Muluk’s village, burning houses, including Muluk’s home, as well as an Islamic school, and forcing 500 Shia followers to flee their homes.