- Associated Press - Monday, April 8, 2019

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Indonesia’s Supreme Court has rejected the appeal of a woman whose complaint about the volume of mosque loudspeakers led to an 18-month prison sentence for blasphemy.

The ethnic Chinese woman, Meliana, was sentenced in August, more than two years after her comments sparked riots in Tanjung Balai, a port town on the island of Sumatra.

A notice on the court’s website said the appeal was rejected on March 27. It didn’t give a reason.

The case has highlighted how Indonesia’s blasphemy law has become a tool for Islamic hard-liners to persecute followers of minority religions.

Meliana’s ordeal began in July 2016 when she asked if the volume of the loudspeakers at her neighborhood mosque could be lowered.

Rumors spread in Tanjung Balai that she wanted to stop the five-times-a-day call to prayer. Days later, mobs attacked her home and burned and ransacked at least 14 Buddhist temples.

Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization, has criticized the conviction and said the complaint wasn’t blasphemous.

At least 147 people have been imprisoned under blasphemy or related laws since 2004, according to Human Rights Watch. The number of cases has slowed since 2014 under President Joko Widodo’s administration.

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC.

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