Javanese housewife Lia Aminuddin‘s intimate connection with all things celestial hasn’t helped her get out of the grubby Jakarta police cell where she has been incarcerated for religious deviation.
In an unusual display of doctrinaire religious thinking, Indonesian police have detained her on blasphemy charges, alleging she has profaned Islam.
The middle-aged self-described “prophet” has claimed she is imbued with the spirit of the archangel Gabriel – who is a heavenly messenger in Islam and Christianity – as well as being Mary the mother of Jesus, with a son Jesus who was born again in Jakarta about 18 years ago.
It began when the woman also known as Lia Eden saw a spinning ball of yellow light about 10 years ago, and until December she and a band of dozens of white-robed followers worshipped in a house in Jakarta.
Police detained her after thousands of irate locals surrounded her house, accusing her of heresy.
“Lia Aminuddin is now being detained in Jakarta central police station because it has been proved she has violated law 156a on blasphemy,” said Jakarta police spokesman I Ketut Untung Yoga. Police officers have begun to collect evidence against her, including expert opinions from religious leaders alleging she had defamed Islam, Mr Yoga said.
Some say the police action smacks of hypocrisy, considering that others accused of heresy, such as members of the thousands-strong Ahmadiyah sect, have not been detained for blasphemy.
National police spokesman Anton Bachrul Alam said it was more difficult to deal with Ahmadiyah, a sect that contentiously believes another prophet followed Mohammed.
“They have a lot of followers, they have a lot of supporters,” he said. “We must also think how it would be with them.”
Indonesia’s ruling Islamic body, the extremely conservative Muslim Council of Scholars, or MUI, has declared the words of Ahmadiyah and Lia Aminuddin heresy. “This isn’t new,” said MUI chief secretary Solahuddin al-Ayub. “We have already issued a fatwa about her ideology.
“Since she said she can communicate with Gabriel, and she said she has seen revelations, she is considered to be creating nervousness in society.”
Indonesia rarely prosecutes religious deviants. In most cases, it seems the police will only act if locals have become irritated and threatened reprisals.
Hamid Basyaib, from the Liberal Islam Network, said: “I think Lia Aminuddin’s case is not blasphemy, but a psychiatric case. She’s disturbed, and she has long-term hallucinations.”