Christian woman charged with blasphemy acquitted in Indonesia

Published 06 February 2020  |  
Screenshot: Sydney Morning Herald

A Christian woman charged with blasphemy for entering a mosque wearing sandals and carrying a dog was acquitted by an Indonesian court on Wednesday.

Suzethe Margaret was freed on the grounds that she was mentally unstable and that she cannot be held responsible for her behaviour.

Last June, the video of 52-year-old Margret entering a mosque with sandals and her dog running around went viral. Her actions were considered extremely offensive and received condemnation from many Muslims as dogs are considered unclean in Islam and bringing one to a mosque is seen as insulting.

In the video that went viral, distressed Margaret was seen arguing with mosque caretakers. She was heard saying that she is Christian and demanding to know about her ex-husband who was going to marry another woman in the mosque later that day.

According to the Cibinong District Court judicial panel's verdict, Margaret "had convincingly committed a religious blasphemy."

But based on testimonies and evidence, Margret was suffering from schizophrenia, a chronic mental health disorder. Her medical records showed that she suffered from schizophrenia and underwent psychiatric treatment in 2013 but had not completed her therapy.

Indonesia's criminal code article 44 states that a person who commits a criminal act by reason of a mental health condition cannot be held criminally liable.

Therefore, Margret could not be held responsible but was sentenced to eight months of imprisonment.

The case was condemned by rights groups, who said it demonstrated how easily Indonesia's blasphemy law can be abused.

In 2018, an Indonesian court sentenced a Christian man to four years in prison after he was accused of insulting Islam and its prophet Muhammad in a Facebook post.

Indonesia ranks as the 30th worst country in the world when it comes to Christian persecution, according to Open Doors USA's 2019 World Watch List.

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