A Cocktail Named Blasphemy

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Indonesian authorities cracked down on a chain of bars and restaurants in the capital this week for promoting blasphemy over a promotion to offer drinks for people named “Mohammad” or “Maria,” Reuters reported.

The “Holywings” chain in Jakarta posted the ad on social media – it was later deleted – offering a free bottle of gin for men named Mohammad and women named Maria every Thursday.

Police began an investigation into the chain following complaints by religious groups. On Tuesday, city officials sealed off 12 outlets in the capital, saying they did not have licenses to serve alcohol.

Authorities also charged six employees with violating blasphemy laws, which carries a five-year prison sentence, and a blasphemy provision of the internet law, which can mean up to 10 years in jail.

Holywings apologized for the promotion and said that it was created without the management’s knowledge. Police said that employees created the offer in an attempt to meet sales targets.

Meanwhile, the issue has highlighted Indonesia’s strict blasphemy laws.

Critics said the law has mainly been used against those deemed to have insulted Islam. They worry that its usage is eroding Indonesia’s long-standing reputation for tolerance and diversity.

Since the law was passed in 1965, Indonesia has detained more than 150 people – mostly from religious minorities – on blasphemy charges, according to data by Human Rights Watch.

In 2017, the legislation was used against Jakarta’s former Christian governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama, who was sentenced to two years in prison on blasphemy charges widely seen as politically motivated.

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