Indonesia’s main Muslim group criticizes blasphemy sentence

By Niniek Karmini | Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization has criticized the blasphemy conviction and imprisonment of a Buddhist woman who complained that the call to prayer from her neighborhood mosque was too loud.

Officials from Nahdlatul Ulama, which claims 60 million members, said Thursday the woman’s complaint about mosque loudspeakers doesn’t constitute blasphemy under Indonesian law.

The ethnic Chinese woman, Meiliana, was sentenced to 18 months in prison on Tuesday by a court in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra province, providing new fuel to concerns that an intolerant brand of Islam is gaining ground in Indonesia. A conservative Muslim group in the province said the sentence was too light.