A sinetron actor has inspired the ire of the hard-line Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) over his "fake" conversion to Islam, the Islamist group said on Friday.
Actor Jonas Rivanno Wattimena reportedly converted to Islam at An Nur mosque, in Depok, West Java, earlier this year. The Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI) allegedly verified the conversion by releasing an official document declaring the conversion. But Jonas, who was born a Christian, denied the claim on Oct. 30. The rumors, he said, had upset his family, prompting the actor to respond to the allegations in Kota Wisata, Cibubur, East Jakarta.
“There's no shahada [declaration], I'm a Christian,” Jonas told the Indonesian newspaper Tempo.
His fiance Asmirandah Zantman, who allegedly witnessed the conversion and is Muslim, denied the event took place. The two are scheduled to get married in January of next year.
The denial irked the FPI who demanded an apology from the actor.
“I hope people will not play with religion,” Idrus Al Gadri, head of Depok chapter of the FPI, said on Friday. “This is about creed and it can be dangerous. We want Jonas to apologize for lying, or else we will continue the legal proceeding, accusing him of religious blasphemy.”
Blasphemy is against the law in Indonesia and punishable by up to five years in prison. But the FPI's complaint failed to move police in Depok to action. The officers, on hearing the FPI chapter head's grievances, told the hard-liners to take the issue up with police in East Jakarta.
The 26-year-old's family reached out to the FPI directly, heading off any possible legal action in an attempt to solve the issue peacefully. The FPI said they listened to the family, but still demanded an apology.
"I told them no, we still want Jonas to apologize publicly for his statement because he clearly hurt Islam," Idrus said. "Apologizing is easy, but it will be a lesson for everyone else not to play with religion."
Jonas rose to stardom with the 2009 RCTI sinetron "Nikita," a remake of the Japanese drama "Tokyo Love Story," where he acted alongside his now-fiance Asmirandah. He most recently starred in the soap opera "Binar Bening Berlian," ("Shining Bright Diamond") which has run for more than 140 episodes.