Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – Indonesian police have named four people, including a member of a regional legislative body, as suspects in a blasphemy case over their alleged involvement in a marriage between a Muslim man and a female goat in East Java province.
The action was taken over the weekend by police in Gresik district following a month-long investigation after at least four Muslim groups filed police reports against those involved in the wedding ceremony.
A video of the marriage, claimed to have been produced only for content purposes, went viral on social media not long after the wedding ceremony was held in Klampok village in June.
Police said the suspects – Arif Syaifullah, Saiful Arif, Sutrisna and Nurhudi Didin Arianto – played different roles in the wedding ceremony. Syaifullah was the content creator and Arif was the groom, while Sutrisna acted as the Muslim wedding officiant and Arianto was the owner of the wedding venue.
However, police have not yet arrested the suspects, who face up to five years in prison if found guilty.
Franciscan Father Andreas Atawolo, a lecturer in dogmatic theology at Jakarta's Driyarkara School of Philosophy, told UCA News on July 4 that a marriage between a man and an animal "is obviously against the principle of a Christian marriage."
"I choose not to comment on the motive, which is said to attract views. What I can say is that a Christian marriage is between two individuals – a real man and a real woman," he said.
"So we need to look at the man's personality – whether or not he is mentally healthy. Perhaps a psychologist or a psychiatrist can say something about it," he said.
Father Atawolo also said the case should not be seen as blasphemy.
"If I am asked, as a Catholic, whether or not it blasphemes against my religion, I say 'no.' Again, what we need to see here is the man's personality. Is he mentally healthy? Is his wedding reasonable? It does not relate to a certain religion," he said.
Earlier, the Gresik district chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and several Muslim groups accused the men of tarnishing the image of the district, which is widely known as the "Kota Santri" (city of students of Islamic boarding schools).
Its chairman, Mansoer Shodiq, said the man-goat marriage, which had caused outrage among many people, was carried out in an Islamic way and against Sharia law, humanity and local culture.
He called on the suspects to issue a public apology. He also urged law enforcement officers to take firm action against those committing any blasphemous act against Islam.