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Lecturer faces hate speech charges for calling holy books 'fiction'

A lecturer at the University of Indonesia’s School of Philosophy has been reported to the police for alleged hate speech after stating on a TV show on Tuesday that holy books are “fiction”.

The report was made to the Jakarta Police by Cyber Indonesia chairman Permadi Arya, also known as Abu Janda, on Wednesday.

While appearing on the Indonesia Lawyers Club talk show on TVOne, the philosophy lecturer, Rocky Gerung, argued about the importance of fiction or literature. He said the word fiksi (fiction), particularly in political parlance, is now considered as pejorative in Indonesia, while it is in fact an important tool for stimulating the imagination.  

“If I use the notion that ‘fiction activates the imagination, then holy books are [works of] fiction because they are not yet conclusive [...] The function of fiction is to activate the imagination, to encourage us to be more imaginative. And now that word is being slain by politicians,” he said.

His statement has provoked some netizens. In colloquial Indonesian, the word “fiksi” rarely refers to literature or the power of storytelling, and is often associated with lies and deceit.  

“According to the Indonesian dictionary, holy books refer to the Quran, the Gospels and others. So he cannot make the excuse that he did not specifically say what religion he was referring to. The dictionary definition is clear,” Permadi said as quoted by

The official Indonesian dictionary defines a holy book as a canonized revelation from God, such as the Quran, the Gospel, the Torah and the Psalm.

Permadi said Rocky had offended all religious believers, adding that the representatives of the major religions in the country— Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism and Buddhism—had supported his legal move.   

Rocky could be charged with hate speech as stipulated under Article 28 of the nation’s draconian Electronic Information and Transaction Law, which carries a maximum punishment of six years' imprisonment.

Published : April 12, 2018

By : The Jakarta Post Asia News Network