Housewife jailed for blasphemy in Indonesia

Siti Aisyah's conviction for blasphemy comes at a time of rising concerns about religious intolerance in Indonesia, where a Christian former Jakarta governor was also jailed for two years on blasphemy charges in May. (AFP)
Updated 23 August 2017
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Housewife jailed for blasphemy in Indonesia

JAKARTA: An Indonesian housewife has been sentenced to two and a half years in prison for insulting Islam, an official said Tuesday, the latest conviction under the country’s controversial blasphemy law.
Siti Aisyah, 47, was found guilty on Monday evening of spreading Islamic teachings that differed from local ulemas — religious leaders — and calling them liars for disagreeing with her.
Her conviction comes at a time of rising concerns about religious intolerance in a country traditionally regarded as a bastion of tolerant Islam.
“What she has committed was an insult for our religion, she is dangerous for a religious city like Mataram,” Didiek Jatmiko, presiding judge at Mataram district court in West Nusa Tenggara Province, told AFP.
Aisyah was named a blasphemy suspect in February for promoting an unorthodox version of a Muslim prayer on a website she ran, and in flyers she distributed around Mataram.
She also urged readers of her website not to follow hadiths — words and practices of the Prophet Muhammad — Jatmiko said.
“We sentenced her to two and a half years in prison because she did not regret her crime at all, she is adamant that her belief is the ultimate truth,” Jatmiko said.
Aisyah rejected assistance from a lawyer and did not defend herself from the charges. She told the court she would not appeal the decision.
Rights groups have long campaigned against Indonesia’s archaic blasphemy laws, which they say have been used to persecute religious and ethnic minorities.
Former Jakarta governor Basuki TjaHajja Purnama, who is Christian, was jailed for two years on blasphemy charges in May.
He came under fire from hard-line Islamic groups after he claimed his political opponents had been manipulating voters by using a verse from the Qur'an to urge Muslims not to vote for a non-Muslim leader.
The verdict fueled fears of Indonesia’s moderate brand of Islam coming under threat from increasingly influential radicals.


US diplomat thinks Trump’s UK itinerary includes the queen

Updated 2 min 20 sec ago
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US diplomat thinks Trump’s UK itinerary includes the queen

LONDON: A top official at the US Embassy in London says he thinks President Donald Trump will meet Queen Elizabeth II during his visit to Britain next month.
Deputy Chief of Mission Lew Lukens told reporters on Thursday that planning for the July trip was delayed by Trump’s summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore last week.
Lukens says Trump’s itinerary includes a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May. He said he believes Trump also will have an engagement with the queen, “but we don’t have any details at this point.”
Lukens’ spoke during a presentation of a new documentary by Britain’s Channel 4, “Inside the American Embassy.” The film shows US diplomats discussing Trump making a pomp-filled UK visit next year, just weeks after Britain’s departure from the European Union.