5 Indonesian Teenagers Charged With 'Blasphemy' For Dancing To Maroon 5 During Prayer (VIDEO)

04/24/2013 11:06 am ET
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Police in Indonesia charged five teenage girls with blasphemy after a cell phone video of the high school students dancing to a Maroon 5 song surfaced online.

According to The Jakarta Globe, the teens were charged with blasphemy under Article 156 Section A of Indonesia's penal code for "tainting religion" by combining prayer with Maroon 5's "One More Night." The students from Tolitoli, a district in Central Sulawesi, were also expelled from school after the video gained popularity.

The video, in which the teens alternate between traditional prayer movements and dancing as the pop song plays in the background, was first uploaded in March but did not gain police attention until the school reported it to authorities.

"The students were performing Sholat [prayer] movement with dancing while alternately reciting [the] Quran and turning on 'One More Night' music," the school's principal -- identified as Muallimin -- explained in a statement obtained by Detik News. "The activity was recorded with a mobile phone of one of the students and they forced another student to hold the phone for a duration of five to six minutes."

Muallimin also added that students are not allowed to bring cell phones to school.

The girls involved are all minors and, thus, have not been detained; but they could potentially face time in juvenile detention for blasphemy against religion. As The Bangkok Post notes, blasphemy carries a maximum jail sentence of five years in Indonesia. However, the case is still pending and additional charges against the teens could be assessed.

According to the Agence France-Presse, members of the Islamic Defenders Front, a group known for its defense of Islam, were outraged by the video and staged a protest outside of the local police station Monday.

Indonesia's blasphemy law has been a frequent point of contention between the country and human rights groups.

In 2010, following a constitutional challenge to the prohibitive measure, Indonesia's Constitutional Court upheld the legislation in an 8-1 decision, ruling that it lawfully restricts religious beliefs in order to ensure public order. International rights group Human Rights Watch denounced the decision, calling it a "setback for religious freedom."

Watch the video that led to the blasphemy charges below.

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