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Indonesian faces jail for Tiktok clip denigrating Palestine

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An Indonesian janitor is facing a maximum six years in prison for violating a cyber law after he posted a video on social media platform Tiktok allegedly calling for the “slaughter” of Palestinian “pigs”.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, is a staunch supporter of Palestine and the clip quickly drew the ire of police in West Nusa Tenggara province.

“The suspect has made slanderous Tiktok content against the state of Palestine with inappropriate words,” police said in a statement.

Reuters could not independently identify the suspect’s Tiktok account. Local news channel, Kompas TV, which showed the clip, said he has since apologised and said that he had mistaken Palestine for Israel.

The 23-year-old suspect has been charged with violating a 2008 electronic information and transactions (ITE) law, which regulates online activity, including for defamation and hate speech.

The law has long been criticised by rights activists who say its broad interpretation allows it to be used to silence dissent, target government opponents and curtail free speech.

Nearly 700 people were imprisoned from 2016 to 2020 under the law, according to data compiled by digital advocacy group, the Southeast Asia Freedom of Expression Network (SAFEnet).

Separately, a 16-year-old student on Sumatra island was expelled for posting a similar message on Tiktok this week, according to local media.

Erasmus Napitupulu, executive director of the Institute for Criminal Justice Reform, said charging and expelling young people was the wrong approach.

“The response that needs to be given is education, not punishment,” he said.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has strongly condemned the violence in Gaza and in a tweet on Saturday called for Israel to end what he called aggression.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi was headed to New York to attend a United Nations general assembly to discuss the Palestine issue, a ministry spokesman said.

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