Woman charged with blasphemy after entering mosque with a pet dog

Responding to the news that the police have charged a woman with blasphemy for entering a mosque in Sentul, Bogor, West Java with her dog, Amnesty International Indonesia’s Executive Director Usman Hamid said:

“The footage shows clearly that the woman is in distress. To bring criminal charges against her is inappropriate. The state’s priority should be her wellbeing. Her actions may have felt insensitive, but these issues can be resolved peacefully, it is not a matter for the courts.

“In Indonesia, blasphemy laws are often used to target individuals who belong to minority religions or whose interpretations of Islam are not sanctioned by the government. Charges have been levelled against others for their peaceful opinions. This latest, unfortunate and absurd case is further proof that blasphemy laws are not fit for purpose. The police must immediately release the woman and drop the charges against her. Further, authorities in Indonesia should repeal the blasphemy law to comply with their human rights obligations.”

Background

On Sunday, a video of a woman wearing shoes walking with a dog into a mosque in Sentul, West Java, went viral on social media. Congregation members immediately asked her to leave the mosque. Many Muslims consider dogs to be impure, particularly their saliva.

On Monday, a doctor from Kramat Jati Police Hospital in East Jakarta announced that the woman has a mental health diagnosis. The police has charged her with blasphemy on the following day under Article 156(a) of Indonesia’s Criminal Code. She remains in detention and faces up to five years’ imprisonment if found guilty by a court.