In July, 21-year-old Christian student Martinus Gulo was imprisoned and fined for a Facebook post in which he reacted against online criticism of Christianity.
The Medan district court declared Gulo guilty of blasphemy, sentencing him to four years in prison and ordering him to pay a fine of one billion rupiah (US$70,000), without which he would have to spend an extra six months in jail.
The court found that Gulo’s Facebook post contravened Indonesia’s controversial electronic information and transactions law against hate speech, judging that Gulo was “guilty of misusing information by offending believers through his Facebook account”.
The so-called blasphemy law is meant to clamp down on the spread of “hatred or animosity” against individuals or groups based on race or religion. Prosecutors had sought the maximum penalty of five years for Gulo.
Statistics from the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network indicate that just between late January and end May of 2017, the hate-speech law was used 55 times by militant Islamists to unjustly persecute religious minorities.
Two such cases in the public eye were the 2017 jailing of former Jakarta governor, Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, after a video was doctored to show the Christian insulting Islam, as well as the early-2018 imprisonment and fining of Rev. Abraham Ben Moses for sharing his faith with a taxi driver. Both cases brought out thousands of Muslim protesters onto the street demanding heavy jail sentences.
Though such persecution affects only a small number of Christians so far, the overall situation for Christians in Indonesia continues to deteriorate, as religious intolerance drives the unjust use of the blasphemy law.
Most of these cases start locally, with hard-line Islamist groups and elements among security forces and political activists colluding to target minorities, in particular Christians. The aim is to eradicate the influence and existence of Christianity in Indonesia.
Under Indonesian law, defamation of religion is enacted under the criminal code and thus is subject to political interests and pressure from powerful Islamic groups.
Despite calls from the United Nations and local leaders to abolish the law and instead be seen as champions of religious pluralism, the Indonesian government has refused to do so.
HOME GROUP PRAYER
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you,” Matthew 5:10–12 NKJV.
We come before you as your children, united in prayer and concern for our fellow brothers and sisters in Indonesia, who are being persecuted and subjected to unfair treatment under unjust laws. In particular, we cry out for Martinus Gulo, who has just been imprisoned for publicly expressing his views concerning the ongoing criticism of Christians in Indonesia and has fallen foul of the country’s blasphemy law.
We cry out also, LORD, for Ahok and Rev. Abraham, and all others who are imprisoned or suffering as a result of the same unjust laws.
As they languish in prison, we pray, Father that you will minister to them, for theirs, as your Word says, is the kingdom of heaven.
Strengthen them all, LORD, that their faith may not falter at this time, as they are subjected to ongoing pressure to recant and deny you.
Let them know, LORD, that they are not alone and not forgotten by their brothers and sisters around the world.
We pray also, LORD, for the leadership in Indonesia, that their eyes will be opened to the unjustness of their blasphemy law and that this law will be stricken from the statutes of the land very soon.
Touch the leaders of Indonesia, we pray, that they may come to rule and serve Indonesia with wisdom and justice, as they align with your sovereign will for that nation.
In Jesus’ mighty name we pray. Amen!
Materials used by kind permission of the original author.