The Supreme Court in Indonesia has ruled in favor of upholding an 18-month prison sentence for a woman convicted of blasphemy charges last year.
Meiliana, a 44-year-old ethnically Chinese Indonesian, was accused of making remarks about the loudspeakers of a mosque in Tanjung Balai in North Sumatra in 2016. She allegedly said the speakers were too loud.
Her lawyer Ranto Sibarani spoke to Al Jazeera and said there was no concrete evidence that her client had committed blasphemy. He described his client as a “victim of a hoax” which had ruined her life within a week.
The lawyer said the ruling could prove to be dangerous because it sets as a precedent and in the future people could spread false accusations that led to wrongful convictions under blasphemy laws.
Meiliana was accused of complaining on July 22 in 2016 about the loudspeakers of the local mosque to her neighbor Kasini. Kasini claimed she asked for the Azan — the Islamic call to prayer — to be turned down.
A mob then attacked her home and set her front lawn on fire. Meiliana only managed to escape with her children when a Muslim driver helped her flee the scene.
Members of the same mob were then summoned to court as witnesses at a trial hearing. A statement written by members of the mob was submitted as evidence. They claimed that the woman said the Azan hurt her ears when a gang confronted her and hurled rocks and bottles at her house.
But the lawyer Sibarani said there was no evidence of any conversation between Meiliana and the mob happening, and the statement was written six months after the incident.
The lawyer said the legal team was now taking considering their final legal options. He said video evidence of the ‘conversation’ outside Meiliana’s house exists, and would be used when they file a plea for a judicial review.
He said if the case was not followed up, it would mean that a statement could easily accuse someone of blasphemy without actual proof.