Indonesian police summoned The Jakarta Post editor-in-chief Meidyatama Suryodiningrat over an anti-Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) cartoon the prominent newspaper published in July. He faces five years in prison if a court convicts him of blasphemy. Suryodiningrat claims the newspaper did not commit a crime.
“We have received information on the matter and currently we are still studying it,” he said. “We are amazed because the fact is we did not commit a criminal act as accused. What we produced was a journalistic piece that criticized the ISIS [Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant] movement, which has carried out violence in the name of religion. It means that the ISIS caricature was not blasphemous. We all know that ISIS is an organization that is banned in Indonesia and across almost the entire world.”
Stephane Peray, a French cartoonist, depicted Islamic State terrorists killing prisoners as another terrorist raises the Islamic State flag. However, a skull and crossbones replaced the Islamic State logo. The Muslim sacred phrases “there is no God but Allah” and “Allah, Mohamed and Apostle” still appear on the flag.
— Andrew Stroehlein (@astroehlein) December 12, 2014
Indonesian clerics told the paper the cartoon insulted Islam. One protest leader, Haris Amir Falah, said the cartoon “strengthens the stigma that Islam represents senseless murders.”
Amnesty International slammed Indonesia since the move harms press freedom. Last month, the rights group said the country convicted over 100 people with their blasphemy law. Sidney Jones, director of the Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict in Jakarta, said the rights groups hope religious intolerance will change under President Joko Widodo, who took office in October.
“Over the last few years, Indonesia has been increasingly criticized for intolerance,” she said. “One of the hopes for the new government coming in was that religious tolerance would be given more prominence.”