Media Watchdog Condemns ‘Insulting Islam’ Trial

Posted by: Roy Tupai on 09, 14 2006 @ 01:28 am

Following is a statement from Paris-based international press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, condemning the trial of the Rakyat Merdeka daily’s chief editor, Teguh Santosa, who is accused of insulting Islam after the newspaper’s online edition republished three Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. Via the Reporters Without Borders website.

Website editor tells court posting Mohammad cartoons did not insult Islam
7 September 2006

Reporters Without Borders today condemned journalist Teguh Santosa’s trial on charges of insulting Islam and the Prophet Mohammad, which began on 31 August and resumed yesterday, when Santosa testified in court in defense of his decision to post three controversial Mohammad cartoons on the website he edits, Rakyat Merdeka.

Santosa told the Jakarta court he posted the cartoons last February in order to supplement news reports on the continuing controversy about the cartoons, which originally appeared in a Danish newspaper. He said he afterwards consulted the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), an Indonesian press freedom organization, and was told he had not committed any breach of journalistic ethics.

After he was briefly detained in July, Santosa said he also discussed the case with two senior Islamic representatives in Indonesia. One, Abu Bakar Baasyir, the president of the Assembly of Indonesian Mujahideen (MMI), assured him his action did not constitute an attack on Islam or the Prophet. The other, Habib Mohammad Riziq, the president of the Front for the Defenders of Islam (FPI), said that in his view the case was closed ever since Santosa withdrew the cartoons and issued an apology the day after posting them.

Santosa, who faces the possibility of a five-year prison sentence, told the judges: “I am deeply disturbed by this charge of insulting Islam, my own religion.” He also repeated several times that he was “just a journalist, and not a provocateur”. The next hearing is set for 13 September.

21.07.06 – Journalist freed but still facing five years in prison
Reporters Without Borders welcomes the release of Teguh Santosa, on 20 July 2006, following pressure, particularly from the Indonesian Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI). Teguh Santosa had been placed in custody the evening before for having publishing three of the controversial Mohammad cartoons in February this year. Government officials as well as the prosecutor general had expressed surprise that the journalist had been remanded in custody and blamed junior officials in the prosecutor’s office for the mistake. The journalist is still facing trial and is in danger of a five-year jail term for having “publicly expressed hostility and hatred to a religious group”. Reporters Without Borders has called for the charges to be dropped

20.07.06 – Online newspaper editor jailed for posting Mohammad cartoons last February
Reporters Without Borders today roundly condemned the arrest yesterday of Teguh Santosa, editor of the news website Rakyat Merdeka Online, for his decision on 2 February to post three of the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that were published by the Danish newspaper Jylland Posten last October. He is being held in a prison in Jakarta.

“Santosa did not reproduce these cartoons in order to provoke,” the press freedom organization said. “He did it with the aim of providing information, and his apologies are evidence of this. We call for his immediate release and the withdrawal of the charges, which are completely unjustified.”

In response to a wave of protests, Santosa publicly apologized to Indonesian Muslims and removed the cartoons from his site the day after he posted them.

He was summoned yesterday to the Jakarta prosecutor’s office, where he was questioned for three hours and charged under articles 156 and 156 a of the criminal code with “publicly expressing a feeling of hostility and hatred towards a religious group.” After being threatened with more severe charges if he contested the accusation, he was taken to Jakarta’s Cipinang prison. He faces up to five years in prison.

The Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI) insisted that Santosa had no desire to provoke Muslims when he posted the cartoons, and that his sole aim was to provide his readers with background to the controversy they had caused.

He is the second Indonesian journalist to suffer consequences for reproducing the cartoons. David Da Silva, the editor of the Christian magazine Gloria, was fired by his employers in February.

http://www.parasindonesia.com/news_read.php?gid=252

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TeguhTimur

Born in Medan, lives in Jakarta, loves Indonesia.

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