Konradus Epa – Police in West Java province of Indonesia have charged a man with blasphemy for trampling on a Quran and hurting the religious sentiments of Muslims.
Cepdika Eka Rismana, 25, a resident of Sukabumi city in West Java, was arrested at a restaurant in the city on May 5, police said. He was then charged with blasphemy.
The arrest came after a radical Muslim group in the province held a protest rally in front of Eka's parental house in Cianjur and his own house in Sukabumi. They were enraged after a video went viral on social media that showed Eka trampling on a Quran.
"I am Dika Eka consciously, I challenge all Muslims," Eka said on the video while committing the act.
Police also arrested Eka's wife on May 5 and named her as a suspect. She is accused of uploading the video on her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter profiles.
If found guilty, the couple could be jailed up to six years under Indonesian criminal law.
Eka and his wife are Muslims but Eka claimed he has converted to another religion without naming it.
West Java police spokesman Ibrahim Tompo confirmed the arrests. "Eka and his wife have been arrested and now they are detained at the police station for interrogation," Tompo said on May 5.
Tompo said Eka had committed the act in 2020 and the video was saved on his mobile phone.
"It was uploaded by his wife on social media after the couple had a quarrel in April this year, so his wife was also arrested and named as a suspect," he said.
The Indonesian Ulema Council, the country's leading Islamic scholars' body, called on Muslims to remain calm and refrain from vigilante attacks.
"Let the police handle the perpetrator legally," Muhammad Cholil Nafis, the council's chairman, said on May 6. "I call upon Muslims to remain calm and not to get provoked over the incident."
Father Antonius Benny Susetyo, a member of a presidential unit promoting communal tolerance, applauded the police for the quick arrests that prevented possible anarchy over the incident.
The priest said such offensive acts should be handled properly to stop possible conflict that can destroy unity and harmony.
"All blasphemy cases should be processed fairly. Don't let this cause conflict that can damage the unity of people and destroy the nation," Father Susetyo told UCA News.
The priest said people of all religions need to respect each other to prevent blasphemy and insisted the law must allowed to take its course to deal with the perpetrators.
Indonesia has seen a series of blasphemy cases in recent times.
On April 9, a court in West Java sentenced Christian YouTuber Muhammad Kace to 10 years in jail. Kace, a Muslim convert, was accused of insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad by claiming the prophet was "surrounded by devils and liars" in a video posted on YouTube.
Police are also hunting Christian pastor Abraham Ben Moses, who has been accused of blasphemy after he urged Religious Affairs Minister Yaqut Cholil Qoumas to remove 300 verses from the Quran because they had caused Muslims to become radical and intolerant.
Moses, 57, has reportedly fled to the United States to avoid arrest.