A former Indonesian minister has been arrested and charged with hate speech and insulting Buddhism after he photographed President Joko Widodo’s face on a Buddha statue on social media.
The arrest of former sports and youth minister Roy Suryo, which included the seizure of his Twitter account and mobile phone, was aimed at preventing him from withdrawing any evidence, the spokesman said. police, Endra Zulpan.
“Investigators have decided to detain Roy Suryo Notodiprojo from tonight as a suspect in a hate speech case,” Zulpan told reporters at a news conference on Friday.
Suryo’s now-deleted tweet was posted in June after the government announced plans to raise the entrance fee to the ancient complex of Borobudur in Central Java, the world’s largest Buddhist temple. He later shelved those plans after being criticized.
Suryo commented at the time that edited images of the leader’s face on a statue at the UNESCO World Heritage Site were “funny”.
His post sparked online fury among Indonesians who saw it as an insult to both the president and Buddhism. A Buddhist organization and a Buddhist man filed separate police reports asking for his arrest.
The charges against him include spreading hate speech, which carries a maximum sentence of six years in prison and a fine of 1 billion rupees ($67,100).
In Indonesia, insulting the president has been widely punished by an internet law that rights groups say severely limits freedom of expression.
In 2018, a teenage student was sentenced to over a year in prison for insulting Widodo on Facebook.
Suryo, however, is currently not facing charges under this law.
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