Indonesian police arrested a man on Monday over an allegedly blasphemous TikTok video, in which he claimed that a mosque in the West Java province was blaring music.
Vlogger Kenneth William Saputra recently uploaded a video to his TikTok account which appears to show him walking in front of a mosque in Bandung, the capital of West Java. The video then shows Saputra “pointing out to the camera that the house of worship was inappropriately blaring some kind of dance music,” Coconuts Jakarta reported on Tuesday.
“I was going for a walk and then I heard this [music]. It turned out it’s coming from there (the mosque). Whoever is playing this music really has no morals,” Saputra said in the video.
Later, in a follow-up video, the vlogger “admitted that the mosque did not actually play music through a speaker and that he added the audio track [to his TikTok video] himself,” the Indonesian news outlet reported.
After Saputra’s admission, other TikTok users accused him of racist and blasphemous behavior. He defended himself from these accusations, claiming that he had made the video to “educate” his audience that “playing music through a mosque is inappropriate,” according to the report.screenshot
Police in West Java arrested Saputra on October 5 for blasphemy under Indonesia’s Information and Electronic Transactions Act; he faces up to six years in prison if found guilty under the law. The vlogger has since apologized for the video and claimed that “he only made it for his amusement.”
Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world and enforces strict blasphemy laws against people who insult Islam.
According to Coconuts Jakarta, the “vague wordings” of Indonesia’s blasphemy legislation “has made it prone to be used as a political tool and to persecute religious minorities in recent years.”
One of Indonesia’s most infamous blasphemy convictions was that of former Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian man of Chinese descent.
During his campaign for a second term as Jakarta’s governor in 2017, Ahok pointed out that the Islamic holy book, the Quran, did not prohibit voting for non-Muslims for political office. He noted that Indonesian imams claiming otherwise were lying. This angered radical Muslims in the capital, who set out to thwart Ahok’s campaign. They staged a series of sectarian rallies in Jakarta to smear the politician, and Ahok soon found himself hounded by accusations of blasphemy.
After successfully derailing Ahok’s reelection, the Muslim cohort then demanded that the devout Christian be formally prosecuted for an allegedly blasphemous speech he gave as governor. Ahok was charged with blasphemy later in 2017 and sentenced to two years in prison. He served the full sentence and was released from prison in January 2019.