12/29/2016, 13.18
INDONESIA
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From accuser to accused: radical Muslim leader charged with insulting Christianity

Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), has led the charge against the Christian governor of Jakarta for blasphemy. Now the Indonesian Catholic Students Association (PMKRI) has filed charges against him for statements he hade on Christmas Day.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Rizieq Shihab, leader of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), has been accused of blasphemy by Catholics under section A of Article 156 of the Constitution. He faces up to five years in prison.

On Christmas Day, Rizieq was videotaped as saying, "If God had a son, then who was the midwife?" The footage of his speech was posted online. When the Indonesian Catholic Students Association (PMKRI) saw it, it decided to take him to court.

PMKRI president Angelius Wake Kako said Rizieq was charged along with two other people who posted the video. The religious feelings of Christians, he added, "have been hurt and humiliated."

Every Indonesian, said the Catholic leader, "should respect diversity and not interfere in the private affairs of other religions. Only Christians know the Christian faith. It is better for all those who do not have that knowledge to be silent."

Rizieq defended himself saying that the accusations of blasphemy are misguided and that the prosecution's matter (religious dogma) is not sufficient for a police report.

He admitted that anyone can sue another citizen if he has evidence, "But these must be complete and not made up."

For months, the Islamic leader has been at the forefront in criticizing and accusing the Christian governor of Jakarta, Basuki Purnama Tjahaja, known as Ahok, of blasphemy of Islam.

Together with the FPI, he has organised several mass demonstrations to demand the politician’s conviction.

For the past two weeks, Ahok has been on trial and two days ago the court rejected the defense request to throw out the case because of too many irregularities.

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