|Pacific Media Watch|
Christians sue Tempo for blasphemy
Title -- 5303 INDONESIA: Christians sue Tempo for blasphemy
Date -- 11 February 2008
Byline -- Media release
Origin -- Pacific Media Watch
Source -- The Jakarta Post (via Joyo News) 9/02/08
Copyright - JP
Status -- Unabridged
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CHRISTIANS SUE TEMPO FOR BLASPHEMY
JAKARTA (Joyo News/Pacific Media Watch): A Christian youth alliance has announced it is suing Tempo magazine for blasphemy.
The Alliance of Christian Students and Youths (AMPK) said Friday the weekly news magazine's cover depicting a satirical version of Leonardo Da Vinci's masterpiece The Last Supper was a violation of Article 156 of the Criminal Code on public defamation, hostility and hatred against certain communities, including religious groups. A conviction carries a maximum four-year jail sentence.
The lawsuit came despite the magazine apologizing for the controversial cover, which it said had not been intended to offend the Christian community in the country.
Spokesman for the group Marselius Simarmata said the AMPK was demanding Tempo publicly announce its apology in three successive editions of the magazine and in the Koran Tempo newspaper and on its Tempo Interaktif website for two days in a row.
The group also urged the Press Council to punish the magazine and asked the Religious Affairs Ministry to take the issue of religious blasphemy seriously.
"We want the law enforcers to withdraw copies of the magazine from shelves nation-wide for hurting the Christian and Catholic communities," Marselius said.
He added the magazine's apology was not enough as religious blasphemy was a crime that must be dealt with in accordance with the rule of law.
"The selection of the cover was deliberate and premeditated," he said.
The cover depicts the late former president Soeharto having dinner with his six children in the same composition as Da Vinci's painting.
Over the last few years, religious blasphemy charges in the country have commonly been leveled at Islamic sects or individuals regarded as "heretical" by mainstream religious groups.
Tempo executive editor Wahyu Muryadi said he hoped to settle the case through dialog or, if the protesters were not satisfied, through mediation with the Press Council.
"We had no intention of insulting the Christian community, but we can not stop any group that wants to take legal measures against us. Tempo has consistently upheld freedom of religion," Wahyu said.
In response to the lawsuit, Benny Susetyo of the Indonesian Conference of Bishops said the country's Catholic leaders were calling on the public not to blow the cover out of proportion. "The Catholic hierarchy considers the case settled following Tempo's apology," he said.
He added the legal measures did not necessarily represent the desires of the Christian community in the country.
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