Lina Mukherjee, a popular TikTok influencer with over two million followers, steered a controversy in March 2023 when she shared a video during her trip to Bali, a famous tourist spot in Indonesia known for its mostly Hindu population. In the video, she said “Bismillah” (which means “in the name of God” in Arabic) before tasting crispy pork skin and making a face of disgust.
This video quickly gained millions of views and drew criticism in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority country, where eating pork is strictly forbidden in Islam. Someone in Indonesia reported Lina Mukherjee to the authorities, accusing her of knowingly eating pork skin as a Muslim.
In May, she was charged with spreading hateful information, which was seen as an act targeting ethnicity, religion, and race with hostility. On September 19, a court in Palembang, Sumatra, found her guilty of “inciting hatred” against religious individuals and groups. The court ruled that she had “shared information intended to stir up hate or enmity among individuals or groups based on religion.”
Apart from the two-year jail sentence, Lina Mukherjee also faces a significant fine. If she doesn’t pay the fine, her jail term could be extended by three months.
After the verdict, Lina Mukherjee expressed surprise at the severity of her punishment, saying, “I know I did something wrong, but I didn’t expect such a harsh punishment,” during an interview with reporters on the local news station MetroTV.
This case has sparked discussions about freedom of speech, religious sensitivities, and how social media is used in Indonesia, where the digital landscape is continually changing.