Indonesian Comedian Gets 7 Months Jail For Blasphemous Wisecrack

A court in Muslim-majority Indonesia sentenced a comedian to seven months in prison for blasphemy after he made a joke about the name Muhammad, a local legal official said Tuesday.

Aulia Rakhman, a comedian from Sumatra’s Lampung Province, was found guilty of propagating hatred through stand-up routines during a December event, Lampung prosecutor’s office spokesperson Ricky Ramadhan confirmed to AFP.

Aulia reportedly joked at a coffee in the provincial capital Bandar Lampung about how names like Muhammad, which are inspired by Islam’s founding prophet, had lost their positive connotations due to the vast number of misbehaving Indonesians who shared them.

Muhammad is one of the most popular male names in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.

Aulia was imprisoned after being reported under a blasphemy legislation with a maximum punishment of five years.Prosecutors wanted an eight-month sentence for Aulia.

The legislation prohibits anybody from making statements contradicting one of Indonesia’s six official faiths or attempting to prevent someone from practicing one of those religions.

Aulia was found guilty last week, but the decision was finally announced on Tuesday.

“The defendant admitted and regretted his actions, behaved politely at the trial, and the defendant has never been convicted,” Ricky said.

“The aggravating factor was the defendant’s actions have disturbed society.”

The comedian’s imprisonment is the latest in a series of blasphemy prosecutions in the country.

In 2022, Indonesian authorities arrested six people on blasphemy charges after a bar chain offered free drink to guests called Muhammad.

In 2017, Jakarta’s ex-governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, was imprisoned for over two years on contentious blasphemy accusations.

Rights groups have long opposed the regulations, which they claim are regularly used to persecute religious minorities.



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