Indonesian pastor Abraham Ben Moses (53) was sentenced to four years in prison for religious defamation in May 2018. He had been arrested in December 2017 after discussing the Quran with a Muslim taxi driver and inviting him to become a Christian.
Rev Abraham Ben Moses is a former Muslim from the city of Tangerang in Java’s Banten province, 25 km west of the capital, Jakarta. Previously known as Saifuddin Ibrahim, he is the son of an Islamic teacher.
He obtained a degree in Comparative Religion and taught at Indonesia’s largest Islamic boarding school. In 2005, he began studying the Bible to disprove Christianity, but became convinced of the truth of the Bible and publicly became a Christian on 4 March 2006. He became well known in Indonesia 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. Abraham was arrested at his house in Buaran Indah, Tangerang, and his phone was confiscated as evidence. He was detained at a Jakarta police station for more than a week following his arrest.
On 8 December, one of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisations, Muhammadiyah, filed a blasphemy complaint with the police, citing Abraham’s Internet evangelism as a basis for blasphemy charges.
On 7 May 2018, Tangerang District Court sentenced him to four years in prison for religious defamation, although the prosecutors had sought a five-year sentence. At the hearing, presiding judge Muhammad Damis said, “Abraham was convicted under Electronic and Information Transactions Law No. 11/2008 as 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). If the pastor could not afford to pay the fine, he said, “it can be replaced with a one-month prison term and we also give the defendant a chance to refuse the verdict seven days from tomorrow to appeal to the High Court”.
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.”
Abraham has four adult children from his first marriage to a Muslim, who eventually left him. In 2014 he married a convert to Christianity, Ayu also known as Sara, who was pregnant when he was arrested and later gave birth to a daughter while her husband remained in prison.
4 March 2006 Saifuddin Ibrahim became a Christian. He changed his name to Abraham Ben Moses.
5 December 2017 Abraham was arrested at his home in Tangerang 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, telling him the prophet Muhammad was inconsistent in his teachings, and invited him to convert to Christianity.
8 December 2017 One of Indonesia’s largest Islamic organisations, Muhammadiyah, filed a blasphemy complaint against Abraham with the police.
7 May 2018 Tangerang District Court sentenced Abraham to four years in prison for religious defamation and fined him 50 million Rupiah (approximately €3,000).
(Christian Times/International Christian Concern/Jakarta Post/UCA News/Voice of the Martyrs/World Watch Monitor)