Last week, an Indonesian Instagram account Alpantuni featuring gay Muslim cartoons disappeared off the social media network. This happened after Indonesian officials pressured Instagram to take it down.
The Indonesian government is now saying that Instagram removed the account, but Instagram denies any involvement. Nevertheless, Instagram has come under criticism censoring the free speech of a gay cartoonist.
Alpantuni posted comics about being gay in a Muslim Indonesian conservative community, how he faces abuse and discrimination today, including been targeted by authorities, and being publicly flogged. The account had around 6000 followers.
The Indonesian Ministry of Communication had said the account violated a law on the distribution of pornographic content, although there was nothing even vaguely risque in the cartoons, taking credit for shutting the comics down.
Instagram, however, deny they did any such thing, saying
Instagram did not remove this account. There are a number of other reasons why an account may no longer be accessible, including, for example, if the account holder deleted the account, deactivated the account, or changed the account username.
But also that the account complied with Indonesian law and Instagram’s community guidelines. Alpantuni’s Facebook account was also removed, with the Ministry taking credit for both. Facebook have not commented on this action.
Amnesty International issued a statement, “at a time when Indonesian people face hateful homophobic rhetoric and discrimination, Instagram has failed to be an ally. It should take a bold stand and reinstate the account immediately.”
Here are a few examples of the deleted strips. This first one begins ‘My family is very religious. I have to pray five times a day, but I’ve got a secret. I’m very pious in front of others, but in private I’m gay.’