Muhammad Aulia, Jakarta – Former Democratic Party executive Ferdinand Hutahaean was found guilty on Tuesday of spreading false information related to his series of tweets including the one that reads "your Allah is weak".
The panel of judges of the Central Jakarta District Court sentenced him to five months in prison and ordered that he remain in custody pending a possible appeal.
Presiding Judge Suparman Nyompa said that Ferdinand was guilty of "spreading false information that triggers civil disturbance". The crime is punishable by up to six years in prison.
"The defendant as a public figure has failed to set an example in the community," the judge said.
Ferdinand, who headed the Democratic Party legal division until 2020, said he would take his time to consider an appeal.
He was reported to police earlier this year after posting a series of tweets confronting self-proclaimed Muslim cleric Bahar bin Smith, who is very critical of the police following the killing of six Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) members.
In a number of tweets, he suggested that Bahar be named a criminal suspect and arrested for spreading hate speech against the police.
But according to prosecutors his particular tweet that could potentially incite unrest is the one that reads: "It's a shame that your Allah is weak and must be defended. As for me, my Allah is the greatest, He always protects me and my Allah doesn't need to be protected."
"The defendant's words clearly weren't directed at Bahar bin Smith alone and his supporters. His words hurt the feeling of all Muslims across Indonesia and maybe around the world," prosecutors said when reading out the indictment on February 15.
Ferdinand has since denied insulting Muslims, saying he himself had converted to Islam in 2017. But prosecutors didn't buy his claims on the grounds that his valid ID card describes him as a Christian and recommended seven-month imprisonment.
Bahar, for his part, is currently being tried by a district court in Bandung, West Java, for allegedly spreading false information surrounding the death of six FPI members, who he said were tortured before being killed by police.
He was earlier jailed for three years after a video emerged showing him beating a student of his Islamic boarding school.
The killing of FPI members
Police fatally shot six FPI members on Dec. 7, 2020, following a highway pursuit of a vehicle convoy carrying FPI leader Muhammad Rizieq Syihab.
Two FPI members were killed on the spot while four others died later in what police described as defense action as they allegedly resisted arrest and tried to grab police guns while in the car.
The National Commission for Human Rights has launched an investigation and recommended a criminal trial against the officers involved.
Three policemen were named suspects for the killing – one died in a traffic accident prior to the trial and the remaining two were recently acquitted by the court.