Christian Woman in Indonesia With Schizophrenia to be Tried for Blasphemy After Bringing Her Dog to Mosque

A Christian woman who suffers from a mental illness is facing charges of blasphemy after entering the holy area of the Jam Al Munawaroh mosque. | Screensho: Sydney Morning Herald

A Christian woman in Bogor, Indonesia, who suffers from schizophrenia, will be tried for blasphemy after bringing her dog to a mosque, angering Muslims.

According to Benar News, 52-year-old Suzethe Margaret could face up to five years in prison after she wore sandals and brought her dog into the Al Munawaroh Mosque in June. Dogs are considered unclean in Islam and bringing one to a mosque is seen as insulting.

In the video that went viral online documenting the event, Margaret was seen arguing with mosque caretakers. She can be heard saying that she is Christian and demanding to know about her ex-husband who was going to marry another woman in the mosque later that day.

The woman’s family says she suffers from schizophrenia, a diagnosis confirmed by police following a psychiatric examination at a hospital in Jakarta. The woman’s medical record showed that she suffered from schizophrenia and underwent psychiatric treatment in 2013 but did not complete her therapy.

Indonesia’s criminal code article 44 states that a person who commits a criminal act by reason of a mental health condition cannot be held criminally liable.

Despite her mental condition, Margaret was arrested in June and faced trial last week.

Indonesia’s Vice President Jusuf Kalla, who is also the chairman of the Indonesian Mosque Council, said the woman’s act of “bringing a dog into a mosque was obviously blasphemous.”

However, the case has been condemned by rights groups, who say it demonstrates how easily Indonesia’s blasphemy law can be abused.

“The government should revoke the law instead of expanding it and drop the cases against those charged,” said Indonesia Researcher Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch.

University of NSW professor Melissa Crouch, an expert on the laws, called the case tragic and “one that simply should not happen.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leah MarieAnn Klett