Jakarta – In response to the blasphemy charge against a middle-aged woman identified only as SM who entered a mosque in Bogor, West Java, with a dog on Sunday, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) officially stated that such an action would only be considered blasphemous had it been done intentionally by a person of sound mind.
"It would only be considered blasphemous if it were done by a sane person. However, if the person who did such a thing turned out to be mentally ill, it's an entirely different story," MUI deputy chairman Yunahar Ilyas said on Tuesday, adding that the MUI was not sure whether SM was of sound mind.
He said he would wait for official police confirmation regarding SM's mental health.
SM was detained by the Bogor Police and charged under Article 156 of the Criminal Code on blasphemy.
Bogor Police spokesperson Adj. Comr. Ita Puspita Lena said SM's family had provided letters from two hospitals stating that SM had a history of mental illness. The police will verify the hospitals' statements, Ita said.
SM, 52, caused a stir on social media over the weekend when a video of her entering a mosque in Sentul with a dog went viral.
Police said that SM entered the Al Munawaroh Mosque in Babakan Madang district at around 2 p.m. on Sunday, saying that she was looking for her husband.
Many Muslims consider dogs to be unclean or impure, particularly their saliva, and most try their best to avoid contact with canine saliva.
"In Islam, keeping a dog as a pet is allowed for security and hunting purposes, as long as the owner is able to keep their house clean," Yunahar added.
In the video, SM appeared to be involved in a brief altercation with a group of people who had asked her to leave the premises.
She resisted, saying that she was Catholic and accused the mosque of hosting her Muslim husband's wedding with another woman.
Yunahar called on the public to stop sharing the video on social media and refrain from adding provocative captions.
"[SM's actions] could potentially trigger a conflict between Muslims and Catholics. We are certain that right-minded Catholics would not even think of deliberately committing such an offensive act," (eyc/rfa)