An ethnic-Chinese woman has been sentence to 18 months in prison for blasphemy after complaining about the noise of a nearby mosque.
The 44-year-old Buddhist woman named Meiliana said the Muslim call to prayer, played five times a day near her house in North Sumatra, was “too loud” and “hurt” her ears.
After prosecutors argued that Meiliana was guilty of blaspheming Islam, presiding Judge Wahyu Prasetyo Wibowo said, “We declare that the defendant is legally and compellingly proven guilty of committing blasphemy against a certain religion that is professed in Indonesia.”
The judge then sentenced Meiliana to one and a half years in prison. On hearing the verdict, Meiliana burst into tears before being taken away in handcuffs.
Reports of Meiliana’s complaint surfaced in July 2016, which resulted in mobs burning and ransacking at least 14 Buddhist temples throughout Tanjung Balai, a port town on Sumatra.
Since 2004, 147 people have been imprisoned under blasphemy or related laws, according to monitoring by Human Rights Watch.
In Western countries, blasphemy laws are better known as “hate speech” and “anti-discrimination” laws.
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