Konradus Epa, Jakarta – Indonesian police have arrested a Muslim politician on hate speech charges for allegedly insulting members of the mostly Christian Dayak ethnic group in Borneo.
Edy Mulyadi, 55, from Jakarta, found himself in hot water after calling Kalimantan – where many Dayaks live – "a place of evil spirits [genies] that throw away children."
The comments were made in a video uploaded on his YouTube channel, sparking outrage among Dayaks and protests in several towns on Borneo.
He was responding to a government announcement that Indonesia's capital city would be relocated from Jakarta because of flooding to Kalimantan and called Nusantara.
Mulyadi, a member of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party, is currently being held in Jakarta.
National police spokesman Ahmad Ramadhan told reporters on Jan. 31 that Mulyadi was arrested and detained for hate speech targeting indigenous, religious and racial groups.
We, the Dayak people, are not evil spirits or monkeys. We are Indonesian people like other people in this country. Mulyadi's statement was very dangerous and divisive
The general secretary of the National Dayak Custom Council, Yakobus Kumis, said Mulyadi has insulted all Dayaks.
"We, the Dayak people, are not evil spirits or monkeys. We are Indonesian people like other people in this country. Mulyadi's statement was very dangerous and divisive," he said.
Divine Word Brother Julius Sudir, coordinator of Samarinda Archdiocese's Justice, Peace and Integrity of Creation Commission in Kalimantan, said Mulyadi's comments were inflammatory and needed to be condemned.
"They were insulting to all people in Kalimantan," he told UCA News on Feb. 1.
As a public figure, he should issue statements promoting unity and peace in society, not divisions. "Although he has apologized, police have to prosecute him to set an example," he said.
According to Indonesian law, Mulyadi could face up to 10 years in prison for hate speech.
Earlier this month a Protestant politician in Indonesia was charged with hate speech for allegedly making offensive social media comments against Muslims.
Ferdinand Hutahaean, a Democrat Party politician, was arrested on Jan. 10 following an outcry over a comment on Twitter in which he allegedly taunted Muslims by calling their God "weak."