TOLITOLI, Indonesia—Five Indonesian teenage girls have been accused of blasphemy and may face jail after making a video in which they mixed Islamic prayer with dancing to a Maroon 5 song, police said Tuesday.
The girls were expelled from their high school in Tolitoli city, on Sulawesi island, and reported to police after the video of their dance to the US band’s hit “One More Night” went viral online.
It is just the latest in a string of blasphemy cases in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country, which have prompted rights groups to call for a change in a law they say is outdated and misused.
In the five-minute clip, the girls, wearing school tracksuits, switch between Islamic prayer rituals and mostly innocent dancing, with the occasional pelvic thrust and suggestive hand gesture thrown in.
Several versions of the video on YouTube have been viewed more than 500,000 times.
It sparked anger in the remote community, with dozens of members of hardline group the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) protesting outside the local police station on Monday.
The school brought the video, which was posted online in March, to the attention of police who questioned the girls on suspicion of blasphemy.
“The school and members of the community were offended by the video and felt it insulted Islam,” Tolitoli police chief Rudi Mulyanto told AFP.
“We are considering the case, and if we think it is serious, we will recommend they be officially charged in court.”
He said the girls, who are not in custody, could be jailed if found guilty but did not know what length of sentence they might face.
Blasphemy in Indonesia carries a maximum sentence of five years, though minors usually face half the adult sentence and are locked up in juvenile detention facilities.
The girls are in grade 12, where students are normally aged 17 or 18. Police did not give their ages but said they were being treated as minors.
The school principal told a local news website that the school had consulted the country’s top clerical body, the Indonesian Ulema Council, as well as the FPI on the matter.
Last year a man was jailed on the island of Sumatra for 30 months for sharing explicit cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad online.