Police and military personnel in Meulaboh, West Aceh, Indonesia arrested a man on Wednesday, on suspicion of terrorizing a mosque and destroying its loudspeakers, an action that was allegedly triggered by his frustration at the mosque for disrupting his sleep during the holy month of Ramadan.
As reported by state news agency Antara, the suspect, identified by his initials NS (26), lives near the mosque in question. During Ramadan, the mosque holds tadarus (Quran recital) sessions, which it broadcasts using its loudspeakers, late every night and often into the morning.
On Sunday at around 3am, NS stormed the mosque during a tadarus session while holding a machete, scaring the congregation out of the mosque, before destroying the mosque’s loudspeakers.
When he was apprehended, NS told the authorities he snapped after days of being kept up by the mosque’s late night activities.
“We are still questioning the suspect,” Meulaboh Police Chief Budi Eka Putra said when asked by reporters about updates on the case yesterday.
The topic of noise from mosque loudspeakers is a sensitive issue in Indonesia. The government, headed by Vice President Jusuf Kalla, has attempted to regulate noise levels from mosques in the past , but enforcing such regulations has proven to be difficult in the Muslim-majority country.
Last year, a woman named Meliana was convicted of blasphemy and sentenced to 18 months in prison for complaining about her neighborhood mosque’s loudspeaker.
The case began back in July 2016, when rioters in the city of Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, attacked and burned several Buddhist temples . The riot was allegedly triggered by Meliana’s complaints to neighbors about the high volume of the loudspeaker used by the mosque in front of her house.
Her sentence drew outrage from many in Indonesia, especially considering those responsible for the violent riots received far more lenient punishments, ranging from one to two months in prison.