Woman complained about too much noise from Mosque near her house, and she was jailed. Prosecutors allege she committed blasphemy against Islam by complaining the Muslim call to prayer was being played too loudly near her home.
She burst into tears as the presiding judge, Wahyu Prasetyo Wibowo announced her sentence on Tuesday and she was taken from the court in handcuffs.
Recent years have seen a rise in conservative and hardline interpretations of Islam, prompting fears the secular nation’s long-standing reputation for tolerance and diversity was being eroded.
“She had said something that insulted religion, in this case Islam,” said Jamaluddin, a spokesman of the Medan district court, adding the defendant had “showed remorse and apologised”.
Political activists have warned the country’s stringent blasphemy laws are being used to bully minorities and violate religious freedoms.
In July 2016, mobs burned and ransacked at least 14 Buddhist temples throughout Tanjung Balai, a port town on Sumatra, following reports of Meiliana’s complaint about a mosque’s noisy loudspeakers.
Her lawyer, Ranto Sibarani, said they would appeal the verdict. “We will appeal the verdict because the judges could not prove that our client has committed blasphemy,” he told The Jakarta Post.
“Sentencing someone to 18 months in prison for something so trivial is a stark illustration of the increasingly arbitrary and repressive application of the blasphemy law in the country.
“The higher court in North Sumatra must reverse this injustice by quashing Meiliana’s sentence and ensuring her immediate and unconditional release.”
A conservative group, Islamic Community Forum, said Meilana’s sentence was too light. The maximum sentence for blasphemy is five years.