Pray for a 22-year-old college student in Indonesia recently sentenced to 18 months in prison for insulting Islam. Agung Kurnia Ritonga is one of the most recent Christians convicted of blasphemy.
The alleged “crime” took place on October 24, 2018, when Agung, a student at the University of North Sumatra in Medan, made an Instagram post. In it, he allegedly mocked a picture of three Muslim youths burning a flag belonging to a banned militant group.
The next day, hundreds of Muslims surrounded his house in protest, and he was arrested for blasphemy.
During the trial, prosecutors told judges that Agung’s actions could have undermined the country’s interreligious relations.
However, the deputy director of the Indonesia-based Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace told ucan that the prison sentence resulted from “pressure from radical Muslim groups.”
“It was because of pressure from radical Muslim groups,” he said, referring to the August 2018 case of a Buddhist woman, also from Medan, who was jailed for 18 months for complaining about the noise from a local mosque’s loudspeaker during the call to prayer.He stressed that the blasphemy law discriminates against non-Muslims.
Throughout the world, blasphemy laws are “used” by Muslims to avenge petty arguments and seize property.
Since 1968, more than 150 people have been imprisoned under the blasphemy law in Indonesia, including former Jakarta Christian governor, widely known as Ahok. He was released from jail last month after serving nearly two years for blasphemy. His trial was marked by mass protests by hardline Islamic groups, illustrating the growing religious intolerance in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation and No. 30 on the 2019 World Watch List.