An Indonesian social media influencer, Lina Lutfiawati, has been sentenced to two years in prison for reciting a Muslim prayer before eating pork in a viral video. The Palembang District Court found her guilty of “disseminating information that could foment hatred among individuals and a certain religious community.” Along with her prison sentence, Lutfiawati was ordered to pay a fine of 250 million Indonesian rupiah ($16,230). Failure to pay the fine would result in an extension of her sentence by three months.
Lutfiawati, also known as Lina Mukherjee online, had apologized before the trial began, acknowledging that she was wrong. However, she expressed surprise at the severity of the punishment. “No human is perfect. In the future, I will only produce funny content that doesn’t offend people,” she added.
The video that landed Lutfiawati in trouble was uploaded in March. In the clip, she filmed herself saying “Bismillah” (meaning “In the name of Allah”) before trying pork rinds. As a Muslim herself, she claimed to be “curious” about the taste of pork. The video quickly went viral, amassing millions of views. Conservative groups, including the Indonesian Ulema Council, the country’s highest clerical body, deemed Lutfiawati’s actions as “blasphemous.” Consequently, she was reported to the police and charged under the country’s blasphemy laws.
Indonesia, with 231 million Muslims comprising 93% of its adult population, is the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. The nation has laws in place that prohibit offenses against its six officially recognized religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism.
The case of Lina Lutfiawati highlights the sensitive nature of religious matters in Indonesia and the potential consequences of violating blasphemy laws. While freedom of expression is an essential democratic principle, it should be exercised responsibly, taking into account the beliefs and values of diverse communities.