Indonesian Comedian Aulia Rakhman Jailed for Blasphemous Joke

Comedian Aulia Rakhman has been sentenced to seven months in prison on charges of blasphemy in Indonesia, a country with a Muslim majority.
Aulia Rakhman
Aulia Rakhman. Photo: Instagram

Comedian Aulia Rakhman has been sentenced to seven months in prison on charges of blasphemy in Muslim-majority Indonesia.

The sentence was handed down by a court after Rakhman made a joke about the name Muhammad, according to a local legal official.

Rakhman, from Lampung Province on Sumatra island, was convicted of inciting hatred through his stand-up comedy routine at an event in December, as reported by Ricky Ramadhan, a spokesman for the Lampung prosecutor’s office, AFP reported on Tuesday.

The comedian reportedly made a joke at a cafe in Bandar Lampung, saying that names like Muhammad have lost their positive meaning because so many poorly behaved Indonesians have that name.

Muhammad is one of the most common male names in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country. Rakhman was reported under a blasphemy law that could land him up to five years in prison. Prosecutors initially wanted him to serve eight months.

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A post shared by Aulia Rakhman (@auliarakhman90)

The law prohibits anyone from making statements that go against any of Indonesia’s six official religions or trying to stop someone from practicing one of those religions. Rakhman was found guilty last week, but the verdict was just made public on Tuesday.

“The defendant admitted and regretted what he did, was polite during the trial, and has no previous convictions,” Ricky said. He added, “The downside is that his actions have caused a disturbance in society.”

This incident is just the latest in a string of blasphemy cases in the country. Back in 2022, six people got arrested for promoting free alcohol at a bar chain for patrons named Muhammad. In 2017, Jakarta’s former governor, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also known as Ahok, was sentenced to nearly two years in prison for blasphemy.

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