Indonesia: Jakarta police arrest six for ‘blasphemy’ over bar promotion

  • The Jakarta Police arrested six people on charges of blasphemy over a bar chain’s free alcohol promotion for patrons named Mohammad, officials said, in a case that has sparked outrage in the Muslim-majority country.
  • In a now-deleted social media post, the Holywings bar had offered a free bottle of gin for men named Mohammad and women named Maria — a popular figure in the Bible — every Thursday if they presented their ID cards.
  • Alcohol is considered forbidden under Islamic law and while drinking is not prohibited for any religion in the secular country’s bars, the act itself is frowned upon by conservative Muslims.
  • The post caused fury online, and several youth organisations reported the management to police for allegedly committing blasphemy, while other groups threatened to raid the bar chain’s locations.
  • Late on 24 Jun 22, police presented six suspects, including Holywings’ creative director and the head of its promotional team, during a televised press conference.
  • “Six people have been named suspects and they all work for the company,” South Jakarta police chief Sr. Comr. Budhi Herdi Susianto said.
  • All six were dressed in the orange shirt usually worn by criminal offenders in Indonesia, with their faces covered.
  • “The suspects made the content to attract customers to their outlets, especially those making less than 60 percent of their sales targets,” Budhi said.
  • The group was charged with multiple offences, including blasphemy and spreading religious hatred, the police said, and could face up to 10 years in prison if found guilty.
  • After the outrage, Holywings issued a public apology and claimed management was unaware of the promotion.

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