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Comedian faces blasphemy trial after performance at Anies' campaign rally

Jakarta Globe - February 6, 2024

Roy Triono & Heru Andriyanto, Bandar Lampung – Comedian Aulia Rakhman is set to face a blasphemy trial in connection with a joke he made during a campaign rally supporting presidential nominee Anies Baswedan.

A prosecutor said on Tuesday the blasphemy case against the comedian has been taken over by the prosecutor's office in Bandar Lampung, the capital of Lampung province, and is now deemed ready for trial.

Aulia, 33, was arrested following the December 7 rally, during which he made references to Prophet Muhammad.

"What's in a name? You go to prisons and check how many [inmates] there are bearing the name Muhammad," he said during a performance at the campaign event titled "Desak Anies" (urge Anies) in Lampung.

The clip of his performance quickly went viral, sparking outrage on the internet and prompting local police to launch a criminal investigation.

"After receiving the suspect and evidence [from the police], the prosecution team will soon prepare the indictment to be presented to the Tanjung Karang District Court," said Angga Mahatama, head of the intelligence unit of the Bandar Lampung Prosecutor's Office.

He added that Aulia will be detained for another 20 days, with potential extensions unless ordered otherwise by the court.

The suspect faces charges under Article 156 of the Criminal Code on blasphemy, which carries a prison sentence of up to five years.

Lampung Police spokesperson Umi Fadilah Astutik previously said Aulia was paid Rp 1 million ($63.5) for a two-hour performance at the rally.

Police have gathered testimonies from seven witnesses and five experts before officially naming Aulia a blasphemy suspect, according to Umi.

Aulia, a Muslim himself, issued a public apology in response to the police investigation.

"I have no intention whatsoever to offend Prophet Muhammad. I was only insinuating to those who carry the name Muhammad that some of them displayed behaviors that don't reflect the name," Aulia said in a recorded video.

"I regret my actions and words during the event, and allow me to apologize to all Muslims. I have no intention to insult Prophet Muhammad and my own faith."

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/lifestyle/comedian-faces-blasphemy-trial-after-performance-at-anies-campaign-rall