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Indonesia: Woman who brought Dog into Mosque Charged with Blasphemy

Rina Chadijah
Jakarta
2019-07-02
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A woman in Jakarta watches an online video on her mobile phone of a Christian woman bringing her dog into a mosque in Indonesia’s West Java province, July 2, 2019.
A woman in Jakarta watches an online video on her mobile phone of a Christian woman bringing her dog into a mosque in Indonesia’s West Java province, July 2, 2019.
Rina Chadijah/BenarNews

A woman who wore sandals and brought her dog into an Indonesian mosque has been charged with blasphemy despite police and family reports that she is mentally ill, officials said Tuesday.

The 52-year-old woman, identified by her initials S.M., was arrested Sunday after entering a mosque in Bogor, West Java while carrying a dog, an act deemed offensive to Muslims because canine saliva is considered impure. In addition, shoes are to be removed before entering the holy place.

S.M.’s family said she suffered from mental illness, a condition confirmed by police following a psychiatric examination at the R. Soekanto Police Hospital in Jakarta. The woman’s medical record showed that she suffered from schizophrenia and underwent psychiatric treatment in 2013 but did not complete her therapy, Bogor police spokeswoman Ita Puspita Lena said.

Despite her history of mental illness, S.M. will be brought to trial, Bogor police chief Andy M. Dicky said.

“We will still process the case. The psychiatric record will be presented in court. The judges will decide whether it’s a mitigating factor,” he said.

S.M. was charged with blasphemy, an offense under Indonesia’s criminal code that can carry up to five years in prison, Ita said.

A video of the incident has gone viral on social media in the Muslim-majority country. It shows an angry S.M. telling mosque caretakers that she was looking for her husband, whom she said was marrying another woman in a ceremony at the holy place. She can be heard in the video claiming to be a Christian.

The video has sparked widespread condemnation of the woman.

Among those appealing to Muslims to remain calm and not overreact was Vice President Jusuf Kalla.

“We must not retaliate [by attacking] a church. Her action has also been condemned by the leaders of the religion to which she belongs,” he said while praising mosque officials for not taking the law into their own hands.

Syafruddin, director of the Indonesian Mosque Council (DMI), took a harder stance. He said the woman’s action could cause unrest.

“The case should be handled transparently. There should be no cover-up,” he told reporters.

Meanwhile, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) called on the public to help prevent any unrest by refraining from sharing the video online.

“If someone who is sane did it, it is clear that this is blasphemy,” he said. “But it is another matter if the person is insane, maybe depressed or has a mental disorder.”

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