Indonesian Muslim cleric under fire for 'insulting' cross

Christian's cry blasphemy after Ustadz Abdul Somad calls crucifix an 'element of the devil'
Indonesian Muslim cleric under fire for 'insulting' cross

Protesters carry a banner reading “Tangkap dan Adili Abdul Somad” (Arrest and bring Abdul Somad to justice) during a protest against the Muslim cleric in Maumere on Aug. 19. (Photo by PMKRI Maumere)

A Muslim cleric in Indonesia has come under fire from Christians for an “insulting and blasphemous” sermon about the Islamic view of the cross, a major symbol of Christianity.

In a video that went viral on social media over the weekend, Abdul Somad, said “there is an infidel genie on the cross” and calls it an “element of the devil.”

His comments came while answering a question from a woman in a question-and-answer session following dawn prayers at a mosque in Pekanbaru, in Sumatra.

The woman had asked why she shivers when she sees a cross.

His answer sparked anger among Christians from across the country.

In Maumere, in predominantly Catholic East Nusa Tenggara province, scores of Catholic university students protested outside a police station on Aug. 19 demanding the preacher’s arrest.

Two days prior, the students and various Christian groups filed a police report against Somad accusing him of insulting Christianity.

“We feel so insulted. We are so offended. As members of the Catholic Church and a Catholic organization, we see the Cross as a symbol of our savior, and it must not be insulted by anyone,” Marianus Fernandez, who led the protest, told ucanews.com.

“What he said — for us — is an insult to our faith,” he said.

Similar sentiments came from the Jakarta-based Association of Indonesian Catholic Intellectuals (ISKA).

“It hurts [our] spirit and efforts to maintain religious tolerance. Religious tolerance is the foundation for the continuity of our society. And the commitment to preserve the Indonesian nationality is our moral responsibility,” the association’s chairman Vincentius Hargo Mandirahardjo told ucanews.com.

“We remind all religious leaders not to go beyond their own religious views. Our theologies are different, but we must respect this diversity,” he said, adding that religious leaders should play a significant role in promoting national unity.

Sahat Martin Philip Sinurat, secretary-general of the Indonesian Movement for Young Protestants said his group had demanded Somad explain his comments.

“If he doesn’t explain I’m afraid that our spirit of religious tolerance will fade away,” he said.

The preacher later uploaded a video on YouTube, in which he said that he did not mean to spread religious intolerance.

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“The comments were made more than three years ago so why are they going viral now? Why am I being sued now?” he asked.

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