Indonesian news editor named suspect of blasphemy against Islam

Jakarta Post chief Meidyatama Suryodiningrat faces up to five years in prison after carton sketch prompts outcry from Islamic groups.

An editor of a leading English-language newspaper in Indonesia has been named a suspect in a blasphemy case against Islam.

Meidyatama Suryodiningrat who is the editor of Jakarta Post was accused of blasphemy after the publication of a cartoon about the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis) group.

The cartoon, published a carton in its July 3 edition which shows a man raising a flag inscribed with the Arabic phrase: “There is no God but Allah” over a picture of a skull and crossbones, with armed fighters in the background.

The carton was greeted with public outcry in the Muslim dominated country, which led the Jakarta Post to issue a front-page apology and later retracted the cartoon five days later. The newspaper insisted it was meant to “critique the use of religious symbols”, and as a “reproach” to Isis, the Islamist group that have been unleashing terror across Syria and Iraq.

A group called the Jakarta Muslim Preachers Corps however filed a complaint to the police and on Friday, December 12, a Jakarta police spokesman said that Suryodiningrat has officially been named a suspect.

“The status of Meidyatama Suryodiningrat has been upgraded to suspect,” police spokesperson said. Local media reports that he will be summoned for questioning next week.

The newspaper however is surprised by the charges against its editor saying that their intention was just to criticise the ISIS movement and not to mock Islam.  “What we produced was a journalistic piece that criticised the Isis movement, which has carried out violence in the name of religion,” part of a a statement published on the Jakarta Post’s website read.

Meidyatama Suryodiningrat could be jailed for up to five years if found guilty.

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