Indonesian comedian jailed for Mohammed joke | Aulia Rakhman sentenced to seven months © nstagram/auliarakhman90

Indonesian comedian jailed for Mohammed joke

Aulia Rakhman sentenced to seven months

An Indonesian comedian has been jailed for seven months for making a joke involving the name ‘Muhammad’.

Aulia Rakhman was found guilty of violating blasphemy laws for the gag, made during a show in the Sumatran city of Lampung in December.

In it, he commented that the name Muhammad could no longer be considered holy given how many  people in prison also had that name. 

Rakhman was charged after a video of the joke went viral. His indictment said he ‘deliberately and publicly expressed feelings or committed acts which were essentially hostile, misused or desecrated’ religion.

His sentence, passed last week but only reported today,  has been condemned by free speech campaigners. Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch, told news agencies the case showed ‘once again, the toxic nature of the blasphemy law in Indonesia’.

In another video posted soon after the original, Rakhman offered his ‘deepest apologies’ saying he had no intention of insulting the Prophet and acknowledged he was ‘foolish’ not to think of the impact of his material. 

There may have been a political element to the prosecution. The stand-up show was part of a campaign event for presidential candidate, Anies Baswedan, who lost the elections this February.

Indonesia is home to more Muslims than any other nation, repressing around 87 per cent of its 241million population.

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Published: 11 Jun 2024

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