Clerics Seek Shariah Blasphemy Charge for Indonesian Paper's Islamic State Cartoon

Clerics Seek Shariah Blasphemy Charge for Indonesian Paper's Islamic State Cartoon

A group of Indonesian Muslim’s has filed a formal complaint against the Jakarta Post, an English-language newspaper based in Indonesia, for publishing a cartoon criticizing the Islamic State, the group formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS).

The cartoon showed the phrase, “La ilaha illallah (there is no God but Allah)” with a flag and a skull, which is thought to have resembled pirates, therefore projecting the message that ISIS was comparable to a group of savage barbarians.

“The caricature has an impression… As if Islam is a cruel religion, which likes to shed blood just like the pirates,” said a member of the Jakarta Preachers Corps. He continued, “The caricature is published in the opinion column. Just like an editorial, it represents the editor’s official stance. The Jakarta Post arrogantly declares hostility and blasphemy against Islam, which is adhered to by the majority of Indonesia.

The Jakarta Post published an official apology for the cartoon in a later edition. However, clerics still demanded punishment. “For such a cruel blasphemy against Islam, an apology isn’t enough. Perpetrators must be given a strong and strict sanction. That’s why we filed a police report,” said an agitated member of the Jakarta Preachers’ Corps.

Indonesia’s blasphemy laws forbid any criticism of the religion of Islam. If found guilty, the offender may be imprisoned for five years.

The Muslim population of Indonesia is estimated at 205 million people, roughly 88 percent of its total population. The nation is home to about 13 percent of the world’s Muslims.

Indonesian police have been tasked with investigating whether blasphemy has in fact been committed. “It’s too early to say that the case is blasphemy. It tends to be a violation against the law on the press,” said a police spokesman.