Australian arrested, accused of spitting in imam’s face in Indonesian mosqueApril 29, 2023
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An Australian has been arrested in Indonesia after allegedly spitting in the face of an imam during an early morning call to prayer at a mosque in West Java.
Brenton Craig Abbas Abdullah McArthur, 47, is accused of spitting on Imam M Basri Anwar’s face at the al-Muhajir Mosque in the city of Bandung on Friday.
Brenton Craig Abbas Abdullah McArthur, from his Facebook page in 2015.Credit: Facebook
Bandung police chief Kombes Budi Sartono told Indonesian news website Kumparan on Friday that the imam had reported the incident to police, who were investigating the allegations.
“We will co-ordinate with the Immigration and the Ministry of Religion to ascertain whether any actions have been violated or not,” he said.
The website later reported McArthur had checked out of his room at the Pringgodani Guest House, opposite the mosque, about three hours after the alleged 6am incident.
On Saturday, police said McArthur had been arrested at the airport on Friday night.
“He was picked up from Soetta [Soekarno-Hatta airport in Jakarta] and is now here [in Bandung police office] for questioning,” Budi Sartono, Bandung police chief, told reporters.
The police chief said McArthur was not trying to escape – he already had a ticket to go back to Australia that day.
Video footage of the alleged incident shows a man in a dark shirt and cap speaking to the imam inside the mosque before leaning forward and spitting into his face. The imam recoils before he flees, and the man turns and walks away.
Kumparan reported that McArthur had suddenly approached the pulpit, where the imam was listening to recitations of the Koran on his mobile phone, which was held close to a loudspeaker.
He allegedly spat at the man’s face and used “harsh words”. He then allegedly made a gesture to throw a punch, prompting the imam to run away.
The motive for the alleged incident was unclear. However, it was reported that McArthur had been disturbed by the sound of the recitations from the Koran.
Brenton McArthur in an image from his Instagram account.Credit: Instagram
McArthur appeared to refer to the alleged incident in an Instagram post on Saturday morning (AEST) in which he posted a video of himself saying: “Stop crying all your rascist [sic] tears.
“I am a Muslim and this is just a rascist [sic] threatening a bule and laughing being a coward.” Bule is an Indonesian word for foreigner.
The post was accompanied by a song titled Love Is the Answer by US artist Natalie Taylor.
McArthur describes himself on his profile as a computer game developer, writer and teacher with interests in philosophy, ethics, human goodness and electronic engineering. He has posted photos of his travels in Indonesia, including trips to mosques, and of himself practising Wushu martial arts.
On his Twitter account he calls himself a “Government Punching Bag … Fighting for Human Rights, International Security and Justice for my Family”.
In June 2017, he posted on social media that he had been issued a certificate from the Ministry of Internally Displaced Persons from the Occupied Territories, Accommodation and Refugees of Georgia, and began describing himself as a refugee. He told his 37 Twitter followers that he had been given refugee status for knowledge of corruption and had provided intelligence, without stating to whom or about which country.
He also posted a photograph of himself outside the State Security Service in Tbilisi, Georgia, saying that he dreamt of working for that agency.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade has been approached for comment.
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