An Indonesian court on Tuesday sentenced a Buddhist woman to 18 months in prison for complaining about the noise of the mosque during the call to prayer.
Meiliana, a 44-year-old Chinese Buddhist, was convicted of insulting Islam for asking the mosque near her house to turn down the volume of the speakers because they were “too noisy” and “were badly in his ears.
The court in the city of Medan, Sumatra, said its complaints two years ago sparked riots that led to the looting of several Buddhist temples and also made some people of Chinese origin had to fled the area.
Meiliana’s lawyer, Ranto Sibarani, said he wants to appeal the decision and Amnesty International has urged the supreme court to overturn the decision.
“To condemn someone to 18 months in jail for something so trivial is a blatant demonstration of the increasingly arbitrary and repressive application of the blasphemy law,” said the director of the Indonesian branch of the non-governmental organization, Usman Hamid,
Indonesia has the world’s largest population of Muslims and Buddhist, Christian and other minorities. In recent years, conservative and uncompromising interpretations of Islam have increased, raising fears that the secular nation’s long-standing reputation for tolerance and diversity will be ruined.
Political activists have said that the country’s strict blasphemy laws are being used to intimidate minorities and violate religious freedoms.
Last year, the former governor of the Chinese ethnic group in Jakarta was tried and imprisoned for blasphemy, after several Muslim groups accused him of insulting Islam when he declared that his political rivals were using the Qur’an to deceive the voters.