Indonesian influencer Lina Lutfiawati enjoys a wide following on TikTok due to her delightful food videos showcasing an array of dishes ranging from fish to ribs. However, in March, the 33-year-old was under intense scrutiny when she filmed herself consuming pork rinds.
Eating this dish was not the only controversial element of the video; it was preceded by her uttering “Bismillah,” which translates to “in the name of Allah” in Arabic. Given that almost 90% of Indonesia’s population of 275 million identifies as Muslim, the combination of eating pork, which is prohibited in Islam, and invoking the name of Allah was especially contentious.
The gravity of the situation intensified when the country’s paramount Muslim clerical body, the Ulema Council, took note of the video. Consequently, Lina was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy and an acceptable equivalent of $16,269.
The legal basis for such a verdict is rooted in Indonesia’s blasphemy laws, inherited initially from Dutch colonial legislation. These laws address deviations from the core beliefs of the country’s six officially recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism. Blasphemy convictions have surged since the early 2000s, even under the leadership of President Joko Widodo.
There have been previous instances of such verdicts. For example 2017, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, then-governor of Jakarta, was sentenced to two years on similar charges, and the subsequent year witnessed an 18-month sentence for a Buddhist woman over a complaint related to a mosque’s loudspeaker.
After the pronouncement of Lina’s verdict, the cleric’s attorney expressed gratitude, emphasizing the lesson for citizens to uphold respect for all religious communities. Lina, expressing regret, shared her disbelief at the severity of her punishment with journalists.
Surprisingly, Lina was without legal representation during her trial. Efforts to reach her representatives and family for a statement remained futile. Several news outlets, including the BBC, covered the story of her sentencing.
On TikTok, Lina goes by the username Lina Mukherjee. Although her controversial video of the pork rinds was not uploaded on her main account, it is available elsewhere. Filmed in Bali, an island predominantly Hindu, she explains her decision to try pork skin. However, her reaction post-consumption is less than enthusiastic, saying, “Not as yummy as what they said on TikTok.”