Indonesian pastor Abraham Ben Moses has been sentenced to four years in prison for religious defamation (blasphemy). He was arrested in December 2017 after discussing the Quran with a Muslim taxi driver and inviting him to become a Christian.
Abraham (53) is a former Muslim from the city of Tangerang in Java’s Banten province, 25 km west of the capital, Jakarta. He became a Christian in March 2006 after studying the Bible to disprove Christianity but instead becoming convinced of the truth of the Bible. Following his conversion, he became well known for Internet evangelism and debating with Muslims.
Abraham was arrested on 5 December 2017 after he uploaded to his Facebook account a recording he had made in which he quoted a Quranic verse about marriage to a taxi driver, identified only as Supri, telling him the prophet Muhammad was inconsistent in his teachings. The pastor also invited the driver to convert to Christianity. The video went viral on social media, and he was arrested at his home.
On 7 May 2018, Tangerang District Court sentenced Abraham to four years in prison for religious defamation. Presiding judge Muhammad Damis said, “He intentionally spread information intended to incite hatred against an individual, group and society based on religion.”
The judge also ordered that Abraham pay a fine of 50 million Rupiah (approximately €3,000), or spend an extra month in prison.
Abraham said in his testimony, “I spread the word of Jesus Christ so everybody can be saved… I get my strength from Jesus, He is a very good friend.”
The pastor’s legal team is to appeal against the sentence – his lawyer Maxie Ellia said, “The sentence is too heavy for the defendant.”
Indonesia’s blasphemy laws are sometimes used against individuals belonging to minority religions, including followers of non-mainstream interpretations of Islam. In May 2017, Former Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, an ethnic Chinese Christian, was jailed for two years for blasphemy because of remarks he made on a Quranic verse during a campaign speech. His sentence shocked many Indonesians and led to widespread protests.
Read Abraham’s Prisoner Profile.
(Christian Times/International Christian Concern/Jakarta Post/UCA News/Voice of the Martyrs/World Watch Monitor)