In Bogor, Catholic woman accused of blasphemy even though she is mentally ill

She entered a mosque in Sentul City with her dog and without removing her shoes. Many Muslims consider dogs unclean and try to avoid contact with their saliva. For the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), such an action can be considered blasphemous "only if it were done by a sane person".

 


Jakarta (AsiaNews) – A mentally ill Catholic woman is suspected of blasphemy and, despite her condition, will face a legal proceeding for entering a mosque in Sentul City, Bogor Regency (West Java) with her dog and without removing her shoes.

The incident, which took place three days ago, went viral on social media and has sparked a major controversy, prompting the country’s top Islamic authorities to speak out to prevent religious tensions.

At present, the woman is in custody, under observation at the National Police Hospital in Kramat Jati (East Jakarta).

According to Bogor police, the 52-year-old Catholic, identified only with her initials, S M, entered the Al Munawaroh mosque, in the Babakan Madang district, around 2 pm (pictured). At the entrance of the building, she told people she was looking for her husband, a Muslim.

Many Muslims view dogs as unclean and try to avoid contact with their saliva. A video posted online shows S M in a brief altercation with people at the mosque asking her to leave. As she refuses, she says she is Catholic and accuses the mosque of hosting her husband's wedding with another woman.

The woman’s family presented the police with two letters from two different hospitals, confirming that she has a history of mental illness.

A spokesperson for Bogor police, Adj Comr Ita Puspita, was quoted yesterday as saying that "Even if the suspect is suffering from an illness, the judicial proceedings will continue until the (Bogor district) court decides whether the charge should be dropped."

In an official statement, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), the country’s highest Islamic body, said that the woman’s action could be considered blasphemous "only if it were done by a sane person".

“In Islam, keeping a dog as a pet is allowed for security and hunting purposes, as long as the owner is able to keep their house clean,” MUI deputy chairman Yunahar Ilyas said.

“[SM’s actions] could potentially trigger a conflict between Muslims and Catholics. We are certain that right-minded Catholics would not even think of deliberately committing such an offensive act,” he added.

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