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Bali senator faces hate speech charges over hijab remarks

Jakarta Globe - January 12, 2024

Celvin Sipahutar, Jakarta – Senator Arya Wedakarna from Bali, a predominantly Hindu island, is now facing hate speech charges following a viral video where he criticized female customs officials for wearing hijabs.

The Bali chapter of the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) filed a police complaint against the senator on Friday, alleging his remarks violated the Electronic Information and Transaction Law.

In the video, Arya expressed dissatisfaction with female officials in hijabs working at Ngurah Rai International Airport's customs office.

"I don't want them to be on the frontline. I want a Balinese girl like you with uncovered hair. Don't assign those with [head] covering; this is not the Middle East," Arya said in the video.

Azham Khan, an attorney for the MUI, characterized Arya's statement as blasphemy and hate speech. The complaint has been lodged with the National Police's Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim) in Jakarta.

Agus Samijaya, a Muslim cleric representing the MUI in Bali, urged the police to swiftly initiate a criminal investigation against the senator to "set a precedent as a deterrent against similar offenses" and to "uphold the law".

Arya, in response to the controversy, claimed earlier that his statement during a December 29 formal hearing with the airport's customs office was taken out of context. He clarified that he urged the customs office to prioritize native Balinese in airport assignments.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/bali-senator-faces-hate-speech-charges-over-hijab-remark