KUALA LUMPUR, July 17 — A man was sentenced to 26 months’ jail by the Sessions Court here today after he was found guilty on two counts of insulting Prophet Muhammad, Islam and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang on Facebook last year.
Judge MM Edwin Paramjothy imposed a 26-month jail term for the first charge and a six-month term for the second charge on Danny Antoni, 29, and ordered the sentences to run concurrently from the date of his arrest on March 6, 2019.
In his judgment, Edwin said the crime of insulting one’s religion was committed not only against the person it was directed at but also against the values and functions that the particular religion represents.
“The question in every case is whether the words used are of such a nature that they will bring about the substantive evils that the legislature has enacted laws to prevent.
“Though freedom of expression secures the freedom to criticise, this right does not grant individuals the right to insult. The law protects freedom of religion through the enactment or strengthening of national frameworks and legislation to prevent the vilification of religions and the negative stereotyping of religious groups,” he said.
Edwin added that religion is something personal and especially dear to the ones professing it, and it is undeniable that in the instant case, the accused’s inappropriate, irresponsible and provocative posting based on race and religion had transgressed the parameters of free speech guaranteed under the Federal Constitution.
Furthermore, he said, the posting was highly inflammatory and emotive, drawing much prejudice against the religion of Islam.
“When viewed objectively, one will be able to conclude that such words or postings are not an essential part of any exposition of ideas and have such slight social value. Any benefit derived from the posting is outweighed by the social interest, order and peace. The words by their very utterance inflict injury and tend to incite an immediate breach of peace,” he said.
Danny was charged with using the Facebook account of Danny A’antonio Jr to post an insulting statement against Prophet Muhammad and Islam which could threaten harmony between Muslims and non-Muslims, at 1.21am on Jan 9, 2019 under Section 298A (1) (a) of the Penal Code, which provides for a maximum jail term of five years.
He was also charged with committing the same offence against Abdul Hadi at the same place, date and time under Section 233 (1)(a) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, punishable under Section 233(3), which provides for a maximum fine of RM50,000 or imprisonment of up to one year or both.
Both postings were read at the Cyber Crime and Multimedia Investigation Division, Commercial Crime Investigation Department, Bukit Aman Police headquarters, Menara KPJ here at 10 am on March 4, 2019.
Deputy public prosecutor Julaila Jamaludin prosecuted while Danny was unrepresented. — AFP