AN Indonesian woman, a Christian said to be suffering from schizophrenia, is to stand trial for blasphemy for bringing a dog into a mosque in June of this year.
Suzethe Margaret’s presence in the Munawaroh Mosque in Bogor, south of Jakarta, led to melee. This caused the dog to run off and it was run over and killed by a passing car.
Dogs are not permitted inside mosques because the animal is considered ritually impure in Islam.
Margaret, 52, also offended worshippers by entering the mosque wearing sandals – another big no-no in Islam.
In video footage that went viral, Margaret could be seen arguing with mosque caretakers and was heard saying that she was a Christian and wanted to know about her ex-husband marrying another woman at the mosque later in the day.
Her family told Benar News that she suffered from mental illness, which police reportedly confirmed after taking the woman to a hospital in Jakarta for psychiatric evaluation.
She faces five years in prison.
Indonesia Researcher for Human Rights Watch, Andreas Harsono, said:
[This case] shows how Indonesia’s blasphemy law is easily abused. The government should revoke the law instead of expanding it and drop the cases against those charged.
Gina Goh, International Christian Concern’s Regional Manager for Southeast Asia, added:
Although I can understand why the Indonesian Muslims were deeply upset by Suzethe’s behaviour, we should not forget that she suffers from mental illness and should not be held to the same standard as an ordinary citizen.
Her case also further proves that blasphemy law in Indonesia has been applied to oppress the minorities in the country, whether they are Christians, Buddhists, or mentally disabled.
Even if rights groups’ previous attempts to revoke the law have failed, the government needs to ensure the rights of religious minorities out of respect for human rights.
After Margeret’s arrest University of NSW professor Melissa Crouch, described the case as:
Tragic … one that simply should not happen. Certainly the wearing of shoes inside a mosque and the presence of a dog inside the mosque would have been disturbing for those present. But that is nothing compared to the absurdity of bringing charges against a woman who appears to have been affected by her illness and whose behaviour, as captured on video, bore no intention of insulting Islam.
This case should be seen as a crisis point in Indonesia in terms of the misuse and abuse of the blasphemy law.