Daughter of Indonesia's first leader in blasphemy row

Sukmawati Soekarnoputri accused of comparing her father Sukarno with the Prophet Muhammad
Daughter of Indonesia's first leader in blasphemy row

Sukmawati Soekarnoputri is seen here in this file photo giving a speech at an election rally in Jakarta. (Photo: Inoong/AFP)

The Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) has condemned “blasphemous” remarks by a daughter of the country’s first president who purportedly compared her father to the Prophet Muhammad.

In footage that went viral on social media, Sukmawati Soekarnoputri was seen speaking before a young audience and asking them “Who fought for [Indonesia’s] independence in the 20th century, the Prophet Muhammad or Sukarno?”

Prior to this, she was also overheard asking “Which one is better, Pancasila or the Quran?” referring to the national state ideology. 

The remarks were made in a Nov. 10 speech during a discussion forum organized to mark National Heroes Day. 

MUI secretary-general Anwar Abbas said the top Islamic clerical body considered her remarks offensive.

“[They] have offended Muslim feelings because the Prophet Muhammad cannot be compared to any other figure,” he said on Nov. 19.

He said her remarks have aroused anger among Muslims but people should remain calm and not allow the issue to be used to cause tension.

Sukmawati’s controversial comments have prompted at least two individuals and a mass organization to file blasphemy complaints with the police.

Among them was Ratih Puspa Nusanti, a member of the Defend Islam Coordinators, a hardline Islamic group.

His lawyer, Novel Chaidir Hasan Bamukmin, accused Sukmawati of Islamophobia.

“She did a similar thing in the past. It is unacceptable for her to say she had no intention to defame Islam,” he told ucanews.

Last year several groups unsuccessfully reported Sukmawati to police over a “blasphemous” poem she wrote and read out at a fashion event.

In it she allegedly compared Shariah law to a konde, a traditional hairstyle in the form of a bun, mocked the niqab face veil and the Muslim call to prayer, the adzan.

Police dropped the cases, citing lack of evidence.

Bamukmin has demanded action this time round. “Blasphemy must not be ignored,” he said, adding that talks with the MUI and MPs will be sought to determine what further action to take. 

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Sukmawati’s lawyer, Petrus Salestinus, denied his client’s comments at the forum were blasphemous, saying they were taken out of context. She was encouraging young people to be aware of national history, he said.

“We should see the context. She had no intention of comparing her father with the Prophet Muhammad,” he told ucanews.

He claimed the video that went viral had been edited to discredit Sukmawati. "When people see the edited version of the video, they might think that Sukmawati made the comparison,” he said, adding that she planned to meet MUI officials in the near future to clear the air.

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