Students face jail for Maroon 5 dance

Five Indonesian students have been expelled from school and are facing criminal charges after making a video of themselves dancing to a Maroon 5 song mixed with Islamic prayer movements.

  • Published: 24/04/2013 at 02:00 PM
  • Newspaper section: news

A screenshot of the YouTube video showing five Indonesian school girls dancing to a song by the US band Maroon 5. The girls have been expelled and are facing a possible spell in juvenile detention, after they mixed Islamic prayer into their dance.

The school girls from Tolitoli, on the island of Sulawesi, recorded themselves dancing to the band’s hit song One More Night. They allegedly made the video due to the popularity of the Harlem Shake flash mobs.

They are now facing time in juvenile detention for “tainting religion” after the video wet viral on the internet. 

According to the Jakarta Globe, the five girls were trying to kill time during an hour-long break from classes on the afternoon of March 9 when they made the video. 

On March 29, a man reportedly told his wife, a teacher at the school, the he saw people watching the video at a market. She then told the school. It is not clear who uploaded the video to YouTube.

The head teacher of the school said he decided to report the students to police after consulting with Indonesia's top Islamic clerical body, the Ulema Council, and the Islamic Defenders Front. 

“The students were performing Sholat [prayer] movement with dancing while alternately reciting [the] Koran and turning on One More Night,” he said. “The activity was recorded with a mobile phone of one of the students.”

As well as being expelled from school, the students were forbidden from taking last week’s high school national exam, which counts for 60% of a the final mark that determines whether or not they graduate from high school. 

The girls were questioned for the first time by police on April 3. Adj Comr Alhajat, the Tolitoli Police chief of detectives, said that the five students were charged with blasphemy against religion under article 156 of the Criminal Code.

The girls were not detained in custody, but Mr Alhajat said there was a possibility they could face further charges as the case progresses, although they are being treated as minors in the eyes of the law.

The Jakarta Post reports that the chairman of the Central Sulawesi chapter of the Indonesia Ulema Council (MUI), Ali Muhammad Aljufri, believes the expulsions were carried out too hastily without any consideration for the girls’ futures.

“They are still young and need guidance from their parents and teachers. Expelling them is not a good example of guidance. The school authorities should instead be punished for their action,” he said. 

“We also fear that other delinquencies could arise due to the depression they may suffer. The video showed that those involved in educating them, their parents and teachers, as well as the MUI, should be more active in teaching the teenagers moral values in accordance with religious teachings.”

Blasphemy in Indonesia carries a maximum prison sentence of five years.

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