Indonesian clerics tell police newspaper's ISIL cartoon is blasphemy

(Photo: REUTERS / Sigit Pamungkas)Shiite cleric Tajul Muluk is escorted by police as he arrives at the courtroom in Sampang at the Madura island July 12, 2012. The district Court sentenced Muluk to two years in prison after he was found guilty for blasphemy and desecration of Islam by declaring that "the holy Koran in circulation is not original anymore."

Indonesian Muslim clerics have accused an English-language newspaper of blasphemy for publishing a cartoon critical of the Islamist group ISIL, wreaking havoc with its bloody Iraq offensive.

The cartoon critiquing the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) "strengthens the stigma that Islam represents senseless murderers," said Haris Amir Falah, leader of Jamaah Anshorut Tauhid's (JAT) Jakarta chapter.

JAT is a U.S. Department of State designated terrorist organization.

Edy Mulyadi of the Jakarta Preachers' Corps (Jakarta Muballigh Corps or KMJ) said his group took offense at the July 3 edition of The Jakarta Post, particularly the issue's editorial cartoon, the Indonesian newspaper reported July 15.

The Jakarta Post apologized for the internationally syndicated cartoon, which was carried in other media, saying it had not intended to offend Islam or any religion.

But Edy said that those responsible must be brought to justice.

The newspaper said the cleric explained that the caricature published t included the Arabic sentence "la ilaaha illallah", (there is no God except Allah) on a flag with a skull.

He said this is typically used to depict pirates and it made Islam seem a "cruel" and violent religion.

The pirate symbolism of pirates could be interpreted as Muslims being bloodthirsty.

The Jakarta Post's cartoon derided the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). Its offensive to take control of Iraq has escalated Muslim sectarian violence and violently persecuted Christians.

ISIL says it has executed people and admitted it has committed violent acts in Iraq.

It has declared a caliphate - an Islamic State.

"The cartoon was published on the opinion page. This means that the cartoon represents the official editorial stance," the Muslim cleric said.

Edy warned that such a stance was an outright declaration against Islam which is the majority religion in Indonesia.


Blasphemy carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

Edy said he met with the chief editor of The Jakarta Post editor Meidyatama Suryodiningrat and he apologized.

The paper published its apology on July 8, noting the cartoon contained religious symbolism that people may mistake for one or another thing.

"The Post regrets the error in judgment, which was in no way meant to malign or be disrespectful to any religion," the apology read.

But the Islamic preachers'group said the cartoon was a blasphemous act which must be punished under the criminal code.

"For such a cruel blasphemy against Islam, an apology isn't enough. Perpetrators must be given a strong and strict sanction. That's why we filed a police report," Mulyadin said.

The Jakarta Post noted in a report it was not the only media organization to published the internationally syndicated cartoon.

The cartoon had earlier been published, without incident, in among others, the Arabic language media outlet Al Quds Arabi on June 30.

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