Jokowi forgives online troll

Jokowi forgives online troll
President Joko Widodo meeting with the mother of Muhammad Arsyad, Mursidia (left).

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has forgiven Muhammad Arsyad, a satay vendor who was detained by the police for allegedly defaming him online.

Jokowi said he forgave Arsyad during a meeting with the satay vendor's parents, Mursidah and Syafrudin, at the State Palace on Saturday.

"I forgive him 100 per cent. I forgave him through his parents," Jokowi told reporters. First Lady Iriana was also present during the 30-minute meeting.

Jokowi added he had asked the police to release Arsyad from detention. "Regarding the legal process, I will check on it again later. But most importantly, I already asked [for the detention to be postponed]," he said.

Jokowi also called on the public to learn from Arsyad's case and promote decency and respect for others online.

"I ask Arsyad to be careful in his actions," Jokowi said.

Speaking after the meeting, Mursidah said that Jokowi was not offended by what his son had done. "I was only told to take care of my son," she said.

In the presence of members of the media, Syafruddin kissed Jokowi's right hand, a sign of deference in the local culture.

Mursidah also said after the meeting that the First Lady had given her cash in a sealed envelope.

Arsyad was arrested at his parents' home in Kramat Jati, in East Jakarta, on Oct. 24, based on a report filed in July by Henry Yosodiningrat, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker and a member of the party's legal team, when Jokowi, then the governor of Jakarta, was engaged in a campaign battle with Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto.

Arsyad was charged with defamation and spreading pornographic material, a violation of the 2008 Pornography Law, and could face 12 years in prison.

The team reported a Facebook account registered under the name of Arsyad Assegaf that had posted a series of doctored pornographic images with the faces of Jokowi and Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Many have come to Arsyad's defence, saying that his prosecution would not bode well for freedom of speech under Jokowi's administration.

Among those who have taken a stand against the arrest is Gerindra politician and deputy speaker of the House of Representatives, Fadli Zon.

Fadli accompanied Mursidah to the National Police headquarters on Friday in an effort to bail out Arsyad.

"This is a petty crime. This is criminalization of the wong cilik [common people]," Fadli said, prior to meeting with police investigators handling the case.

The National Police, meanwhile, will announce their decision regarding Arsyad's release from detention on Monday.

"The police's Criminal Investigations Directorate [Bareskrim] will make a decision regarding the request for release from detention on Monday," National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie said.

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