Woman is acquitted of blasphemy for taking a dog into a mosque
Catholic woman is acquitted of blasphemy for taking a dog into a mosque in Indonesia
- Suzethe Margareth was facing 5 years behind bars for taking dog into mosque
- She was acquitted of the blasphemy charges because of her mental state
- Footage shows her taking dog inside Indonesian mosque, and also wore shoes
- Dog later died after being hit by car as animal welfare workers tried to capture it
A Catholic Indonesian woman who doctors say should receive psychiatric treatment has been acquitted of blasphemy charges for taking a dog into a mosque.
Suzethe Margareth was released after a panel of three judges at Cibinong District Court in West Java province absolved her of the charges because of her mental health.
She was facing up to five years jail time under her country’s strict blasphemy laws after she allowed her dog to run around inside a mosque.
Suzethe Margareth (centre) poses with her lawyers after her verdict at the Cibinong District Court in West Java, Indonesia on Wednesday
‘The defendant cannot be convicted because of her inability to take responsibility as she has psychiatric disorders,’ presiding judge Indra Meinantha Vidi said in the ruling.
The judge added: ‘What she has done was part of her mental illness.’
Many Muslims consider dogs to be impure.
A video that circulated online in Muslim-majority Indonesia last July shows a dog running around a mosque in the West Java district of Bogor while a visibly upset Ms Margareth argues with shocked worshippers.
Angered conservative Muslims pressured police to bring the case to court.
A woman who identifies herself as Catholic is facing five years in jail in Indonesia after taking her dog into a mosque while wearing shoes – both of which are considered blasphemous
Blasphemy is a criminal offence in Indonesia with a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
Rights groups have long called for abolishment of the law, which is used to persecute Christians and other religious minorities.
Amnesty International said the case was ‘unfortunate and absurd’.
‘The state’s priority should be her wellbeing. Her actions may have felt insensitive, but these issues can be resolved peacefully, it is not a matter for the courts,’ said the group’s executive director in Indonesia Usman Hamid.
The dog, which was chased out of the mosque, died a day later when it was hit by a car as members of an animal welfare group tried to capture it.
In 2018, a court in Sumatra sentenced a woman who complained about the volume of a mosque’s loudspeakers to 18 months in prison for blasphemy.
She was released on parole in May.
Mobs burned and ransacked at least 14 Buddhist temples in Tanjung Balai, a port town on Sumatra, in a July 2016 riot following reports of the woman’s comments.
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