"I did not expect this punishment"
Lina Lutfiawati aka Lina Mukherjee, a TikTok sensation with over 2 million devoted followers has been involved in a legal storm that’s sending shockwaves through Indonesia.
Mukherjee, who, by the way, has an affinity for Bollywood so strong she adopted an Indian name, decided to indulge her curiosity in Bali in March 2023.
But little did she know that a single video would change her life forever.
In a daring move that left her fans and critics alike wide-eyed, Lina filmed herself saying an Arabic phrase just moments before taking a bite of crispy pork skin.
Mukherjee claimed that the video was shot during her travels in Bali, showcasing her tasting a renowned street food delicacy known as “babi guling.”
This flavourful dish combines rice with succulent portions of spit-roasted pork, crispy crackling, and a medley of fresh vegetables.
In the video, Mukherjee addresses the camera and contorts her face in discomfort as she takes a bite of the crispy pork crackling.
But, pork is an absolute no-go in Islam. The video quickly skyrocketed, raking in millions of views and, naturally, an avalanche of controversy.
In May, she was hit with charges of disseminating hateful information, an act deemed hostile towards ethnicity and race.
Fast forward to September 19, and the courtroom drama unfolded in Palembang, Sumatra.
The verdict was delivered, and it was nothing short of shocking.
Lina Mukherjee was found guilty of “inciting hatred” against certain individuals and groups.
The court, in its wisdom, declared that she had:
“Spread information that was intended to incite hate or individual/group enmity.”
However, there’s more. In addition to the two-year jail sentence handed down, Lina Mukherjee faces a hefty fine that could stretch to $16,245 (£13,155).
And here’s the clincher: failure to cough up that hefty sum could extend her stay behind bars by an agonising three more months.
After the gavel came down, Mukherjee, with an air of disbelief, addressed reporters from local news station MetroTV, saying:
“I know that I am wrong, but I did not expect this punishment.”
The ripple effect of this shocking case has sparked impassioned debates across Indonesia, touching on fundamental issues like freedom of expression, sensitivities, and the explosive influence of social media.
Human Rights Watch’s Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono told CNN:
“She’s done nothing wrong but it says a lot about (the state of) Indonesia…
“It bucks a global trend to either not enforce blasphemy laws or to scrap them altogether.”