East Java: outrage at a Muslim's act of intolerance
A Muslim believer later identified as H.F. threw away a traditional Hindu religious offering. The video of the gesture went viral. Protests and demonstrations have been organised against radical groups, which consider sesajen illegal.
Jakarta (AsiaNews) - A video of a Muslim man kicking a Hindu religious offering has generated anger and concern in Indonesia. In the footage, shot by a friend of the Islamic radical, the young man is seen chanting "Allah-u akbar" and throwing away what is called sesaji (or sesajen), a typical religious offering made up of flowers, fruit and incense and usually placed at crossroads, under bayan trees or in other places considered sacred.
The perpetrator, later identified as H.F. and originally from the city of Bantul, said: "It is precisely these objects that could trigger the anger of Allah." The incident took place near Mount Semeru, in the Lumajang region of East Java, and after attracting public attention and becoming a trending topic on social media last week, it sparked outrage and protests.
A number of Hindu organisations have condemned the act and organised street demonstrations against radical groups that consider sesaji to be illegal practices. "This was an act of blasphemy against our national cultural and religious traditions and especially towards our fellow Hindus in the Lumajang region," said Ketut Swardana, head of Indonesia Hindu Prajaniti's legal department.
H.F. was arrested on 13 January. 'He was already a suspect for blasphemy,' said Chief Commissioner Gatot Repli Handoko, spokesman for the East Java Police Headquarters, in a press release. "H.F. has been charged under Sections 156 and 158 of the Penal Code and his case is currently under investigation," he added.
After his arrest, the Muslim man apologised to the Indonesian people, but claimed he had acted 'spontaneously' to prove his personal beliefs and said he had asked his friend to record the video in order to upload it to his social profiles.