On April 6, a Christian Youtuber in Indonesia was sentenced to ten years in prison for allegedly posting offensive videos. According to the Union of Catholic Asian News (UCA News), prosecutors insisted on the 10-year jail sentence.
The 56-year-old Muhammad Kace, a former Muslim cleric who converted to Christianity, has uploaded at least 450 videos on his Youtube channel. AS of the writing of this article, Kace’s videos are still available.
Syahnan Tanjung, the chief prosecutor, accused Kace of deliberately causing public unrest with his videos. Tanjung requested that the Ciamis District Court in West Java, Indonesia impose the most severe punishment.
“This is outrageous, so it warrants a stiff sentence,” Tanjung said.
In August last year, Kace was arrested after many complaints were filed against him. Kace reportedly claimed that the Prophet Muhammad is unknown to God “because devils surround him.”
Ikhsan Abdullah, deputy chief of the Indonesian Ulema Council, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body, said the case against Kace is clear. “He has insulted God, the Quran, and the Prophet Muhammad,” Abdullah said.
Kace has been in detention since his arrest in Bali, Indonesia. According to the Persecution International Christian Concern, a US-based persecution watchdog, Kace suffered inhumane treatment while incarcerated.
According to local news, another inmate, a detained police official named Napoleon Bonaparte, beat Kace and forced him to eat his excrement. According to an open letter, Bonaparte abused Kace because he offended his religious beliefs.
The watchdog alleged that police only initiated investigations after Kace’s abuse was made public.
According to UCA News, the prosecutors charged Kace with spreading fake information, which carries a heavier penalty, instead of charging him with blasphemy. Blasphemy cases in Indonesia have a 5-year maximum jail sentence, while misinformation charges can go as high as ten years.
Bonar Tigor Naipospos, the deputy chairman of Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace, an Indonesia-based political and human rights research and advocacy group, questioned the prosecution’s move against Kace.
He also accused the court of using double-standard in Kace’s case. Naipospos highlighted the case of Muhammad Yahya Waloni, an ex-Christian who converted to Islam and was charged with five months in prison for an anti-Christian blasphemy charge.
“Why did they change the charge,” Naipospos asked.
Martin Lucas Simanjuntak, Kace’s lawyer, said they would appeal the ruling.