In Jakarta, Indonesia, 31-year-old Teguh Santosa is on trial for publishing copies of Danish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on a newspaper Web site on Feb 2, 2006. The trial’s opening hearing began on Aug 30.
Teguh Santosa is the editor-in-chief of the online edition of the Rakyat Merdeka newspaper service. He may go to jail for five years if he is found guilty.
The 12 cartoons were first printed in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in Oct 2005 and then reappeared in several other European papers. Santosa republished three of them.
The Moslem community around the world were furious and the publication of the cartoons sparked serious protests. In Indonesia, the largest Moslem community in the world, several Moslem organizations held rallies and urged the government to break off the diplomatic relationship between Indonesia and Denmark.
Denmark temporarily closed its embassy in Indonesia last February for the safety of its employees.
Remember the protests around the Islamic world in February of this year?
Does this help refresh your memory…..
Indonesian Muslim protesters burn a Danish flag during a demonstration in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia, Monday, Feb. 6, 2006. Muslims rallied in several cities in the world’s most populous Muslim country Monday to show anger over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Western newspapers. Writings on the posters say ‘Put Danish Prime Minister on international tribunal.’
As Michelle says the Dhimmi press of our western world may have forgotten about the Muhammad cartoons but the radical Islamicists have not.
According to Moslem belief, drawing or representing the Prophet Muhammad in any kind of image is totally blasphemous.
“The defendant’s publication of caricatures or illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad is a disgrace toward Islam,” prosecutors said.
After the session Teguh said that he had never, even for one moment, intended to disgrace Islam.
Teguh Santosa decided to upload the cartoons to show his readers what had caused so many problems. At the time the subject was under intense public debate.
Later after uploading the cartoons; Teguh’s office was visited by a few radical Moslem organizations. They urged Rakyat Merdeka to remove the images and apologize. The newspaper did so, but this was not enough for them so they filed this case into the court.
At the court session, Teguh received support from the Alliance of Independence Journalists (AJI) and Kontras — an Indonesian non-government organization — which held a protest against the trial and urged judges not to use criminal law instead of press law.
Heru Hendratmoko, chairperson of AJI, said that applying criminal law for this case was a crime against the press. He explained that the press are fully aware that there is no absolute freedom even for them. He urged government officials and communities to use press law if any disputes arise between the press and other parties.
He added that holding a trial for a press matter using criminal law was violating press freedom, which is guaranteed by the Indonesian Constitution.
So, what to do?
As members of the press and journalists, we have an obligation to protest this case on freedom of the press issues.
Kind of ironic that Teguh Santosa faces a prison sentence for publishing some comedic cartoons while New York Times publisher Bill Keller has refused to publish them in the New York Times but yet publishes national security secrets and yet he faces NO jeopardy, isn’t it?
Teguh Santosa should be freed. This is a blatant violation of the freedom of the press doctrine.
Geofrrey at Beyond Wallacia has the details of a protest:
Publishers, editors, journalists and readers are urged to protest this case. Messages of support to Teguh Santosa and the Alliance of Independent Journalists may be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flap URGES all of my readers and fellow bloggers to send e-mails in support.