Gay Muslim comic strip vanishes from Instagram amid Indonesian government pressure
An Indonesian comic strip featuring gay Muslim characters disappeared from Instagram Wednesday amid mounting pressure from the government. The social media giant denies it took it down.
The Indonesian government sent a letter on February 2 asking the company to delete the @alpantuni page, saying it violated Indonesian law prohibiting the distribution of pornography. Indonesian officials went one step further and threatened to block the social media platform in the country.
Sebagian warganegara jga menterinya Rudiantara penakut sama karya ssma warganya sendiri.Komik2 yg diunggah oleh #alpantuni itu sebagian ya emang realita & nyata. Sepanjang ini negara dihuni oleh manusia, mau muslim non muslim kek namanya homo bakalan ada kali!C’mon wake up! pic.twitter.com/d0CkCDPEoH— Lini Zurlia (@Lini_ZQ) February 11, 2019
Alpantuni first appeared in January with the tagline: “Gay Muslim comics for people who are able to think,” garnering some 6,000 followers during its short lifespan. The Indonesian-language comics dealt with LGBTQ issues in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country.
A friend of mine who goes by #alpantuni lost his Instagram and Facebook after the companies were threatened by the Indonesian government. Please spread awareness and pray for him. https://t.co/dKJV80C1eW— Neko Boy Official (@NekoBoyOfficial) February 12, 2019
Indeed!!!I want #alpantuni stay and be creative as always!— Lini Zurlia (@Lini_ZQ) February 12, 2019
What a shame!I found out that there was no hardcore pornography content like what our conservative society and government told in media. It is merely his life about being not heterosexual and believing his faith as a Muslim. https://t.co/msTIkdpupy— Adolfo Panjaitan (@adolfopanjaitan) February 13, 2019
I'm very sorry, that's how Indonesian people are. I, as an Indonesian myself, am ashamed of the actions taken by netizens. I myself don't actually support "gay", but I respect those who have chosen the path to become gay. Greetings of peace 🙏🏻.— Ferry Andika (@ferryand_) February 11, 2019
While it reportedly did depict topless men in bed together it never featured any cartoon nudity during its short-lived run.
“Materials promoting LGBT are against health rules, religious rules and cultural norms. It is not in accordance with Indonesia,” Communications Minister Rudiantara said.Also on rt.com ‘God's wrath’: Malaysia’s ex-Deputy PM says Indonesia quake was to punish gay people
“For us, being L.G.B.T. is a psychological illness that needs to be cured, and this comic is promoting it,” Muhyiddin Junaidi, a representative of the Council of Ulemas, a group of of Muslim scholars, told The New York Times in a telephone interview.
Instagram claimed it had decided not to remove the account and gave alternative explanations for its sudden disappearance.
“There are a number of other reasons why an account may no longer be accessible, including, for example, if the account holder deleted the account, deactivated the account, or changed the account username,” an Instagram spokesman told Reuters.
Homosexuality, though legal, has often been a contentious issue in Indonesia, and has recently come to the fore of international news after regional clampdowns on public displays of affection, which often culminate in corporal punishment in the form of lashes.Also on rt.com ‘Bleak future’: State in Malaysia approves public canings for breaking sharia law
In 2018, the province of Sumatra criminalised “immoral acts” between same sex couples which also included cross-dressing. Meanwhile, Google pulled the Blued gay dating app from the Indonesian version of its app store in response to government pressure.
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