A young Christian politician has been accused of blasphemy in Indonesia after criticising Sharia-based bylaws, Catholic news agency UCAN reports.
Grace Natalie, 36, the chairwoman of the Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI), was reported to police by a conservative Muslim organisation after delivering her speech at her party’s gathering in Tangerang, near Jakarta, last week.
“The PSI will prevent injustice, discrimination, and all intolerant actions in this country. The PSI doesn’t support Gospel and Sharia [-based] bylaws,” she said at the gathering.
In response to the allegation, Natalie, a former TV journalist, told reporters: “The implementation of religion-based bylaws victimise women and I have become a victim as well for criticising such regulations.”
The Indonesian Muslim Workers’ Brotherhood that filed the complaint said her speech was against the Quran.
“Her comments appeared hostile [to Islam] and was considered hate speech against religion,” the group’s lawyer, Eggy Sudjana, said.
Catholic lawyer Petrus Selestinus said Natalie had been misunderstood and that she “[only] rejects religious bylaws because she wants society [free] of discriminative regulations”.
According to Indonesia’s National Commission on Violence Against Women, over 400 “discriminative” regulations are in force in 13 provinces in the country.
Last year, the Christian former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, known as “Ahok”, was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy for suggesting a passage from the Quran had been misinterpreted during his re-election campaign.