The court in Medan on Sumatra Island, Indonesia, Tuesday, set a judicial precedent by sentencing an ethnic Chinese Buddhist to 18 months jail term for complaining about noise from a mosque’s call to prayer.
In what is the latest conviction under a controversial blasphemy law, Meiliana, 44, was found guilty of insulting Islam for asking her neighbourhood mosque to lower its sound system because it was too loud and “hurt” her ears.
Her lawyer said his client would appeal the ruling of the court.
There are some 800,000 mosques across the archipelago, with the five-times-a-day call to prayer heard everywhere in the biggest cities and smallest towns.
Tuesday’s verdict came amid fears that Indonesia’s moderate brand of Islam is coming under threat from increasingly influential radicals.
The court said the woman’s comments two years ago triggered riots that saw angry Muslim mobs ransack Buddhist temples.
Indonesia, which has the world’s biggest Muslim population, is officially pluralist with six major religions recognised, including Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism. Freedom of expression is supposed to be guaranteed by law.
But criticising religion particularly Islam, which is followed by nearly 90 percent of Indonesia’s 260 million citizens can land offenders in jail.
Last year, Jakarta’s former governor the city’s first Christian leader of Chinese descent was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy.