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Indonesian woman sentenced to prison for blasphemy after saying Muslim prayer then eating pork on TikTok

Palembang, Indonesia — A court in Indonesia has convicted a woman of inciting religious hatred and sentenced her to two years in prison for saying a Muslim prayer and then eating pork — considered forbidden in Islam — in a TikTok video.

Judges at Palembang court in South Sumatra province in Sumatra island also ordered Lina Lutfiawati to pay a fine of 250 million rupiah ($16,262) in their blasphemy trial verdict on Tuesday

Lutfiawati, who is also known as Lina Mukherjee and who identifies as Muslim, said a brief prayer phrase that translates to "in the name of God" before eating a crispy pork skin in a video that was published in March and was widely viewed.

Indonesia Blasphemy
Lina Lutfiawati, also known as Lina Mukherjee, sits on the defendant's chair during her trial in Palembang, South Sumatra, Indonesia, Sept 19, 2023. Mohammad Fadli/AP

Once she went on trial on blasphemy charges, she expressed regret and apologized in a post on her social media last month. She apologized again after Tuesday's verdict.

"I am surprised. I have apologized many times. Actually, I know that I was wrong, but I did not expect the sentence to be two years," Lutfiawati said after the trial.

Indonesia is the largest Muslim-majority country in the world and consuming pork is considered "haram," or forbidden in Islam. The charge of inciting hatred against a religious group is a part of blasphemy laws that critics in Indonesia say have been used to curtail freedom of expression.

"What's been happening to Lina is not surprising, despite the government's promises" to protect freedom of expression, said Usman Hamid, the Executive Director of Amnesty International Indonesia. He said the laws also have been used to target religious minorities.

In 2017, Jakarta Gov. Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian, was imprisoned for two years after being found guilty of blasphemy for quoting a verse from the Koran during a re-election campaign speech.

In 2018, an Indonesian court sentenced an ethnic Chinese woman, Meiliana, who complained about a noisy mosque to 18 months in prison for blasphemy.

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