Law lecturer Mirza Alfath has joined civil servant Alexander Aan as the latest Indonesian Facebook user to become a victim of mob rule and blasphemy laws.
Alexander Aan has already been jailed, after being assaulted in his office, because he wrote on Facebook that God does not exist and published material about the life of Mohammad.
Now Mirza Alfath has been arrested in the province of Aceh, after a mob attacked his home, because he wrote a Facebook post in July criticizing the modern use of Sharia Law.
This week the Serambi newspaper published a letter from a Muslim activist, quoting Mirza’s posts and accusing him of insulting Islam.
As so often happens in these cases, a mob attacked his home and the police arrested him (and not the mob), officially for his own safety.
He published a ‘final post’ on Facebook, seemingly while in police custody, which assured his friends that he was okay, before his account was deactivated.
Mirza has publicly reaffirmed his status as a Muslim and apologized for his Facebook post, but he may still face blasphemy charges.
Whatever the outcome of this case, it is another example of the incendiary combination of angry mobs and blasphemy laws.
Throughout history, developments in communications technology have often been the trigger for fundamental changes in society.
The Internet is now a major battleground on which the war is being fought between freedom of expression about religion and suppression of dissent.
We must redouble our efforts to have all blasphemy laws repealed.
And we should use the Internet that they are trying to stifle to spread the news as widely as possible of this latest infringement of human rights.
Mirza’s Facebook post criticizing Sharia Law
This is the original Facebook post by Mirza that caused the mob to attack his home:
“Sharia Law has obviously a lot of weaknesses and shortcomings. It is no longer feasible for today’s modern and advanced society. Sharia law is only suitable for the era when people were still lacking of knowledge and science.
One disadvantage is that the Islamic sharia never allow ‘field evidence’ and science in their legal decision process. It relies solely on witnesses, for example, in the case of a rape, the victim must bring four witnesses who saw the suspect raping the victim.
While in the case of adultery, a pregnant woman is enough as an evidence of adultery, which leads to stoning (although the stoning itself is not regulated in the Koran). Are there any justice in the law of God which He said is the Justice itself?”
Mirza’s final post before closing his account
And this is the final Facebook status he posted, seemingly while in police custody, before his account was deactivated:
“Asalaamu alaikum wa rahmatullah wa barakatuhu. This is my last status before I permanently deactivate my facebook account. I am all right. This is for my facebook friends who have often discussed my statuses, especially Muslims. Both me and my family apologise if it has been deemed that I have insulted and hurt the feelings of Muslims and also people of other faiths.
Personally I do not think it was my last status about the Israeli/Palestine conflict which has triggered the misunderstanding. Thank you, my facebook friends, you have made our discussions most enjoyable. May you stay healthy and prosper. Before I finally end allow me to quote M. Gandhi: “The greatest victory is by attacking without violence”. Wasalaam.”