08 March 2017

Indonesia imprisons leaders of 'deviant' religious group on blasphemy charges

A court in Indonesia has found three leaders of the religious minority group, known as Gafatar, guilty of blasphemy and sentenced them to multiple years in prison.

The East Jakarta District Court awarded five-year prison terms to the community's founder, Ahmad Moshaddeq, and president, Mahful Muis Tumanurung. Gafatar spokesperson and vice president Andry Cahya received a three-year sentence.

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Presiding judge Muhammad Sirad ruled on 7 March, that the three men had "tarnished one of the religions in Indonesia deliberately in public", referring in particular to Islam. In his verdict statement, he said that the movement "contradicted and offended Islamic values held by most Indonesian citizens".

The Gafatar belief system combines the teachings of Islam, Christianity and Judaism but urges followers to give up certain Islamic practices like prayer, fasting and the Hajj pilgrimage. Indonesia being a country with a majority Muslim population, these opposing ideas have lead to public suspicion and accusations of "deviant teachings". [International Business Times] Read more