On Friday, Indonesia's former Information and Communications Minister Tifatul Sembering, tweeted, “A saying of the Prophet [Mohamed]: Whomever you find committing the acts of the community of Lot (homosexual) should be put to death.”
Sembering is now a member of Parliament from the Islamist Prosperous Justice Party. His tweet is the latest example of a rise in anti-LGBT rhetoric by high-profile politicians in an uproar that began in January. On Monday, Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu said the LGBT community is more dangerous than nuclear weapons, because “it skews the mindset of our nation away from our base ideology.”
Sembering later deleted the tweet in response to online criticism. A few people, including religious studies scholar Akhmad Sahal, suggested Sembering was importing the rhetoric of ISIS, which has publicized the execution of many alleged gay men that it justifies with this same passage of scripture, to Indonesia.
One local paper reported that the former minister had been "bullied," and Sembering tweeted that he had been silenced after simply quoting scripture.
"What should we do if there are parties who claim that conveying the Quran and Hadith is hate speech?" Sembring asked in a Twitter poll.
As of publication, "just smile" is winning with 49% of the vote.
J. Lester Feder is a world correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. His secure PGP fingerprint is 2353 DB68 8AA6 92BD 67B8 94DF 37D8 0A6F D70B 7211
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