Muslims – Catholics join against blasphemy

Muslim activists in Indonesia want police to charge one of their hard-line clerics with blasphemy.

They have joined Catholic students who accuse the cleric of insulting Christianity.

They accuse the leader of the Islamic Defenders Front, Rizieq Syihab, of mocking Christians following a sermon on Christmas Day.

He reportedly said, “If God gave birth, then who would be the midwife?”

Angry Catholic students filed a blasphemy complaint the next day.

More than 140 lawyers have supported the case against Syihab.

At a meeting last month at the Catholic students’ headquarters in Jakarta, Muslim members of the Interfaith Student Forum and Student Peace Institute, said they also backed the blasphemy case against Syihab.

They said his comments not only hurt Christians but also caused division among Muslims.

“As Muslims we deeply regret [Syihab’s comment],” said Slamet Abidin of the Interfaith Student Forum. “He should not have messed with the religious beliefs of others.”

“We are determined to help push this through the legal process,” he said.

Teaching tolerance

He says the cleric’s behaviour damaged the reputation of Islam as a tolerant religion.

The students say remarks like Syihab’s will help foster extremism if they’re ignored.

The Indonesian Catholic Students Association says police questioned Syihab after the association filed the case against him.

The West Java student chapter of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organisation, has also condemned Syihab’s comments.

Indonesia’s criminal code on blasphemy carries a sentence of up to five years in prison.


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News category: Asia Pacific.

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