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Malaysia: Man sentenced to 10 years in jail for Insulting Islam and Prophet Mohammed on Facebook

10 jail terms of 1 year each for 10 charges was meted out consecutively

A Malaysian citizen has been sentenced to more than 10 years in jail and three others were charged for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammed on social media.

According to the reports, one person, identified as 22-year-old Facebook user “Ayea Yea”, has pleaded guilty to 10 charges of anti-religious activity and misusing communication networks. The guilty has now been sentenced to 10 years of imprisonment, which is believed to be the harshest such penalty on record in the Muslim-majority country, where concerns over racial and religious tensions have grown in recent months. “Ayea Yea” was sentenced by the Kuching Sessions Court after pleading guilty to 10 charges under Section 298A of the Penal Code and Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.

Reportedly, Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun said in a statement that the accused had pleaded guilty to 10 charges of misusing communication networks. The offence carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail or a fine of up to 50,000 ringgit ($12,228) or both. The sentence was meted out consecutively, Mohamad Fuzi said.

Another social media user had also pleaded guilty and a sentencing hearing would be held on Monday. 52-year-old Facebook user “Yazid Kong” pleaded guilty to two charges of posting comments disrespecting Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

Two others, Twitter user “AlvinChow333” and Facebook user “Danny A’antonio Jr”, have pleaded not guilty and were being held without bail. All four were charged under laws against causing racial disharmony, incitement and misusing communications networks.

“The police advise the public not to abuse social media or communication networks by uploading or sharing any form of provocation that can affect religious or racial sensitivities, causing racial tensions within this country’s diverse community,” Mohamad Fuzi said.

On Thursday, Minister in charge of religious affairs Mujahid Yusof Rawa said the Islamic Affairs Department had set up a unit to monitor writings and communications insulting Islam and Muhammad. He said the ministry would not compromise on any acts insulting the religion and called for punishments against those found guilty of such.

However, Andrew Khoo, co-chairperson of the Human Rights Committee of Malaysia said the situation is an “unprecedented” one. “For someone to face five separate charges, and for the sentences to be served consecutively – this is excessive,” Khoo told Al Jazeera. Citing a press report, he said imprisoning someone without representation was in itself a travesty of justice.

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