Cooking pork with dates is probably nothing more than a form of culinary expression in most parts of the world, but here in Indonesia it has sparked debates about blasphemy because of a satirical cooking video.
Recently, comedians Tretan Muslim and Coki Pardede uploaded a video on Youtube showing controversially cooking the two ingredients together – pork being haram (forbidden for consumption by Muslims) and dates holding religious significance in Islam as they are said to be the Prophet Muhammad's favorite fruit.
In the 20-minute video – the original version of which has been deleted – both Tretan and Coki can hardly contain their laughter as they use the pork and dates as comedic props for religious-based jokes. Some of the jokes include:
– Coki, who is wearing a t-shirt that says "Anti-religion religion club", says, "So what happens if the juices from the dates go inside the pores [of the pork], are the tape worms going to be mualaf (Islamic converts)? We don't know."
– Tretan puts his ear close to the pork and claims to hear faint screams of "hell" while Coki does the same thing and claims to hear "kafir" (non-Muslim/infidel).
– Tretan making the observation that this is the only cooking video in which the chef does not taste the food, because he himself is Muslim.
Several Indonesian clerics have expressed outrage by the video, with celebrity cleric Teuku Wisnu one of many who took to social media to condemn Tretan and Coki.
"Why must the youth neglect religion just for a laugh? And then using the reasoning, 'we're just playing around, we're not serious, just joking,'" Teuku wrote in the caption, before quoting religious text about how joking about religion can bring disaster to the joker.
Heavy metal guitarist-turned-cleric Derry Sulaiman went several steps further in condemning Tretan and Coki by issuing a thinly-veiled threat against them.
"Who are these people? Outrageous, they want to be famous but they make fun of our religion. Please come forward with information about the addresses of these two, I want to hear their jokes directly (which aren't funny at all)," he wrote, before quoting renowned Indonesian cleric Buya Hamka who said that if Muslims don't defend their religion if it's being mocked, then they're better off dead.
On the other side of the argument, netizens came out to defend Tretan and Coki, with blogger Zulfikar Akbar tweeting perhaps the most eloquent reasoning for why the video does not constitute blasphemy against Islam.
"To me, the two comics did not intend to blaspheme religion. They're also not after popularity. They're just popularizing how to view religion in a more fun way, even if our religions may be different. They're also viewing differences through happiness, not anger," he wrote.
Other netizens pointed out that it's highly ironic that people not get riled up over religious-based corruption or persecution of religious minorities, but they do over the mixing of pork with dates (which some have also pointed out is not exactly a new culinary invention).
Straying off the topic of religion, we feel this tweet best represents how we feel about the video. Terkait video masak babi pake kurma, what a fucking waste. That pork belly could have been cured, smoked, or roasted. pic.twitter.com/BHCfXsLZyT – Danang (@danangbgs) October 21, 2018
Neither Tretan nor Coki have directly addressed the controversy since it went viral over the past few days, nor have there been any reports of criminal action against the pair.
Blasphemy is a crime in Indonesia, but vague wordings in its legislation has made it prone to be used as a political tool and to persecute religious minorities. Arguably the most infamous blasphemy conviction was given to former Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, who was sentenced to two years in prison in 2017 simply for warning the public not to trust officials who quote the Quran to convince them not to vote for non-Muslim politicians.
More recently, a woman in the North Sumatra province was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison for allegedly complaining about the volume of a mosque's loudspeakers – a conviction that even religious officials and lawmakers criticized.