Sect leader gets 2.5 years for blasphemy

The Jakarta Post/July 30, 2009

The South Jakarta District Court on Thursday sentenced Agus Imam Solichin, leader of the Satrio Piningit Weteng Buwono sect, to two and a half years in prison for religious blasphemy.

During the court session Thursday, Judge A. Haryanto said the defendant had violated article 156A of the Criminal Code on blasphemy.

The verdict was less than the five years being demanded by state prosecutors.

Prosecutor Dedy Soekarno said that the defendant had expressed regret about the charge.

"We have allowed the defendant up to seven days to decide whether or not he will file for an appeal," Dedy told Antara state news agency.

On January 26, policemen raided the headquarters of the sect in Pasar Minggu, South Jakarta. The officers suspected the sect was divulging in practices considered false by mainstream Muslims, such as not praying five times per day or fasting.

While Indonesia attains to be a free secular democracy, there are officially only five religions recognized by the state - Catholicism, Anglicanism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam. All other religions are considered blasphemous, particularly those with any link to Islam, and are often the target of police and vigilante activities.

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