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Instagram takes down gay Muslim comics after Indonesian request

 Instagram has taken down an account that featured comic strips about a Muslim gay man’s daily struggles after Indonesia demanded its removal, the government said Wednesday.

Indonesia’s Communication and Information Technology Ministry said it had sent a letter to Instagram requesting that the account, called @alpantuni, be taken down for lewd content. 

“Instagram complied with the ministry’s request,” the ministry said in a statement. 

Communication Minister Rudiantara had warned that Instagram could be blocked if it ignored the demand.

The account featured 10 comic strips carrying Indonesian text, including one depicting two men having sex. It was accessible until around midnight on Tuesday.

Another post showed the character named Alpantuni being abused by other people for his sexuality.

Instagram could not be immediately reached for comment. 

Homosexuality is not a crime in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, except in Aceh province where Sharia law is in force.

But the gay community have been under increased pressure since 2016 following homophobic rhetoric from officials and conservative Muslim groups amid growing advocacy for sexual minorities. 

In recent years, police have occasionally raided places frequented by gay people and briefly detained them on suspicion of engaging in prostitution and pornographic acts.

Last year, the city of Pariaman in the devoutly Muslim West Sumatra province passed a by-law that imposes a fine of 70 dollars for “homosexual and transgender activities.” 

Leaders in several Indonesian cities have also said they were considering issuing by laws banning homosexual activities.

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Indonesian police break alleged online fake news syndicate

Indonesian police have arrested three people they say were part of a syndicate that spread fake news and other misinformation online for money.

The group, called Saracen, posted false news, provocative memes and other forms of content on social media to suit the agenda of their paymasters, said national police spokesman Awi Setiyono.

The alleged syndicate involved about 800,000 social media accounts and offered its services to individuals for payments, he said, adding that police were trying to find out who their clients were.

“These people were engaged in hate speech,” the Setiyono said. “People must not fall for memes intended to create ethnic, religious and racial divisions.”

Ethnic and religious tensions rose earlier this year in the run-up to the Jakarta gubernatorial election pitting then-incumbent Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, and former education minister Anies Baswedan.

While campaigning, Basuki was charged with blasphemy after hundreds of thousands of Muslims rallied to demand he be prosecuted over remarks that his opponents misused a verse from the Koran to prevent him from winning another term.

He lost an April election run-off to Anies, who was backed by Muslim conservatives, despite winning the most vote in the first round vote, and was subsequently sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy.

Police quiz two men over amorous Facebook photos

Police in Indonesia’s North Sulawesi province have questioned two men after one of them posted photos on Facebook showing them kissing in bed.  Continue reading “Police quiz two men over amorous Facebook photos”

Youthful Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil mistaken for Indonesian president

Jakarta – Indonesian social media users have gleefully shared reports that a German tourist mistook Bandung Mayor Ridwan Kamil for President Joko Widodo. Continue reading “Youthful Bandung mayor Ridwan Kamil mistaken for Indonesian president”