Indonesia: Christian politician faces blasphemy charge for saying she won’t support laws based on “Bible or Sharia”

It isn’t, of course, the Bible part that has anyone upset. Eggi Sudjana, a politician from the National Mandate Party, “claimed Natalie’s position on sharia went against the Koran and was potentially blasphemous.”

“Another Ahok? Chinese Christian faces blasphemy rap in Muslim Indonesia,” by Resty Woro Yuniar, South China Morning Post, December 1, 2018 (thanks to The Religion of Peace):

When Indonesian politician Grace Natalie pledged her party would not support discriminatory local laws based on “the Bible or sharia”, she probably did not expect to be investigated by police.

But on November 22, 11 days after the ethnic Chinese Protestant addressed members of her Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) and their guest, President Joko Widodo, she was summoned for seven hours of questioning.

Eggi Sudjana, a politician from the National Mandate Party, which supports Widodo’s opponent Prabowo Subianto – had reported her comments, which also included a call for an end to the forced closure of places of worship.

Sudjana claimed Natalie’s position on sharia went against the Koran and was potentially blasphemous….

Observers say Natalie’s predicament carries uncomfortable parallels with the case of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese known by his nickname Ahok, who was sentenced last year to two years in jail for blasphemy, after he referenced an Islamic verse on the campaign trail. Ahok’s conviction, which shocked many moderates, followed street protests involving thousands of Muslim hardliners, including Sudjana. It is still making waves today, with a rally this weekend marking two years since the demonstrations against him began.

Yet, unfortunately for moderates, the outlook for people like Natalie is, if anything, even gloomier than when the former governor was jailed. Observers say that religion, in particular Islam, will only become an even more fraught political issue as the April 2019 election looms.

RELIGION AND POLITICS

In the face of demands for an apology, Natalie has stood firm, arguing that her comments were grounded in data. The National Commission on Violence Against Women has reported that more than 400 religion-based regional by-laws have been implemented since the country’s democratisation in 1998, many of them discriminating against women.

“PSI will prevent injustice, discrimination, and all form of intolerance in this country,” Natalie, a former television journalist, said. “We want to fight this because Indonesia is diverse, if we do not maintain this diversity Indonesia could become like Syria or Iraq, and nobody will benefit from this.”…

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