Gregory Luke

Dec 16th, 2010, in Featured, News, by

Lombok expat Gregory Luke jailed for blasphemous tampering with mosque sound systems.

Gregory Luke of Lombok

American guesthouse owner Gregory Lloyd Luke, 64 years old, was sentenced to five months prison after being convicted of two counts of blasphemy and one of disorderly conduct at the Praya District Court in Lombok yesterday.

On August 22nd 2010 Luke had angrily pulled out the plug of a sound system in a mosque near his home in Kuta, Lombok, after complaining that a prayer reading being held was too loud and distorted. Local residents then became angry with him, went to his home and ransacked it, causing about 200 million rupiah damage; no-one has been prosecuted for this crime. Luke was later arrested and charged with blasphemy.

Initially after being arrested Luke denied that he had pulled out the plug, but in court he confessed to the deed. Prosecutors had sought a 7 month term for Luke, far less than the maximum 5 years, but Judge Suhartoyo said there were mitigating factors, they being that he:

  • was polite in court
  • had expressed remorse
  • was a Muslim
  • had no prior convictions
  • had helped promote tourism in Lombok

Luke, who wore a sarong, polo shirt and peci at the hearing, said in his plea for mercy:

I apologise for my wrongdoing in the mosque. I’ve followed all the trial proceedings and listened to the witnesses’ testimonies. I hope I can get the lightest sentence.

Neither the prosecution nor the defence intends to challenge any part of the verdict or sentencing.

27 Comments on “Gregory Luke”

  1. rustyprince says:

    I could be very mistaken but I think Syria doesn’t permit loud speakers expounding from Majid. Maybe that’s why it wasn’t included on the ‘Axis of Evil’ A-list.

  2. rustyprince says:

    Oh yea, nearly forgot, someone should link to Timdog’s excellent analysis of Lombok’s doctrinaire Islam posted over on RRA.

  3. Ross says:

    Yes, Rusty, and then they can see my comments on Luke’s case!
    Sunmmarised, ‘LOMBOK, what does one expect?!?’

  4. berlian biru says:

    He was an idiot and probably realises that fact now.

    Don’t like large crowds of football fans? Don’t choose to live near Old Trafford. Object to girls wearing skimpy bikinis? Best to avoid a house by Copacabana beach. Hate the screechy sound of badly tuned mosque loudspeakers during Ramadan? Well a devoutly Islamic island in a largely Muslim archipelago might not be the best choice for a retirement home.

  5. diego says:

    When will indonesians realize that it is ISLAM that puts a bad name on Indonesia?



    Isn’t it clear enough we need to distance ourselves from those ARABS and whatever shit they believe in?

  6. Arie Brand says:

    Noise pollution is an almost universal evil in SEAsia. In most of the Philippines it is not the mosques but the neighbourhood Karaoke Bars (and the neighbour’s karaoke), the open air “discos” and numerous fiestas. The speakers used are always of a monstrous size. It is not uncommon to see a five foot Filipino lugging around a six foot speaker.

    However, I suppose that what makes mosques particularly troublesome is the early hours at which they are bound to start their noise eruptions. Joseph Conrad, in referring to the sorry lot of pilgrims on “Lord Jim’s” ship, talks about their “exacting” faith. A nice neutral term – covering all kinds of ills including sleep deprivation.

  7. ET says:

    berlian biru

    He was an idiot and probably realises that fact now.

    Or maybe he didn’t realise it in the first place when he went to live there and started a business. Annoyances which at first seem bearable have a tendency to build up until they explode.

    Arie Brand

    Noise pollution is an almost universal evil in SEAsia.

    I agree. Here in Bali it is the almost ubiquitous sound of chainsaws massacring trees for new developments or used for rough cutting of big woodcarvings. The person doing the sawing usually wears ear protection but the rest of the neighborhood can go to hell. But locals don’t seem to mind. They say it’s ‘important‘.

  8. Chris says:

    You would think that he could get off without a conviction, let alone serving jail time). He has already received “street justice” (as it’s called in Jakarta), i.e. the damage to his house.

    Actually, I have always wondered what would happen if someone swapped the mosque’s cassette of the call to prayer with “For Whom The Bell Tolls” by Metallica or “Sehnsucht” by Rammstein. Now I know.

    A question: Does anybody know the name of his guesthouse? And if he is a foreigner, how can he own it anyway – is it in the name of his Indonesian spouse?

  9. Hans says:

    what did he expect, a few years ago we had a girl servant, she fcked the neighbor boy in our house when we were in Sweden. She became pregnant and we are still today a bit surprised that not some Muslim active arrived and fired the house. I think we did not get REPRISALS because we live in a military zone, and wher the true power lies in Indonesia is not so difficult to know.

    A few years ago, a thief was mistake of trying to steal in my area ther we live, soldiers chased him and took him, then they the MP Statutory one example of how uninvited are treated, since then, nothing happened in this area.

    I’m not sure about Luke, but he looks familiar. looks like a guy I did see, he was talking with this traders geeks in one of this less fashionable eat places in the end of the street on the right side.

    Merry Christmas wherever you are.
    yesterday her was a blizzard, today it is -16 and sparkling white on the outside. it is now so cold that it cracks in the 3 dm thick snow cover for each step I took when I was out and picked up wood for the stove.
    Santa Claus sits and charges the rocket fuel in Rovaniemi, then he pulls the earth around 6000 km / h with his Christmas presents.

  10. Rambutan says:

    Sometimes I dream of playing Christian rock on a massive sound system at 5 in the morning in the middle of a Jakarta neighbourhood…

  11. Mas Martin says:

    The name of the guesthouse is ‘Hideaway‘.
    See this link.
    Apparently, it is now put on sale. Is anybody interested?

    Mr. Luke was probably pushed into admitting his guilt and into ‘nice behaviour’ including showing remorse, because he was threatened by sentence of ‘up to five years’.
    As he was in the jail anyway, he might have felt that he could not be declared not-guilty in this Islam-flavoured issue, and if he got a light sentence, it was a matter of weeks before he was out of jail. Anyway, this is a sad example of Indonesian (in)justice.

    Speaking about noise polution, it seems that now even Christians (Protestants) want to match Muslims in making an early-morning noise. I witnessed how the Christians turn their loudspeakers on at 5 am in Tomohon, North Sulawesi, near Manado. The poor sleeping fellows have to suffer 1-hour of loudly broadcasted Bible reading, singing, reading out names of people having birthdays etc. I wonder what would happen if I just pulled the speaker’s plug. Would I end up in jail with blasphemy charge like Mr. Luke was?

  12. Akang Bayan says:

    I think foreigners should respect the local culture. G Luke should find another country that he considers appropriate with him. In fact Indonesia is a rich country does not need foreigners to interfere. Especially want to change their culture.

  13. Dian R Wulandari says:

    I feel for Mr. Luke. I am a devout Muslim, and even I get irritated by those loud prayers over terrible sound systems, regardless the time they air it.
    He was probably at wits end, and all he wanted to have was a quiet peaceful start of a day.
    Surely disconnecting a plug from a sound system is not blasphemic.
    And isn’t it shameful that the people who vandalised his house didn’t have to be held responsible?
    This is more than just blasphemy accusation, or disorderly conduct. What had happened to him is just pure hatred. The subtext of this mishap is racism.
    If I had been the one pulling the plug off a sound system in a mosque, the matter would settle quickly as soon as they name me : the ungrateful snobbish little bitch who lives next door.
    What a pity. He might deserve some financial penalty, but not months in jail.

  14. ET says:

    I wonder what would happen if I just pulled the speaker’s plug. Would I end up in jail with blasphemy charge like Mr. Luke was?

    No. You will probably get an invitation to join the FPI.

  15. Hans says:

    North Sulawesi Is a nice place, nicer than Lombok. go for Manado and bonaken, everything’s actually good shit compared to Lombok. Seems almost like our friend may not be guilty, and then we pass on tourist response. we will never forget how the dictatorship Thailand imprisoned our children from 1980 to about 1995, local response will surely be that radical Muslims are growing with a smaller tourist stream. Better to save Manado to the people and tourists.

  16. Shakuntaladevi says:

    I am muslim, but I hate the mentality most muslim in Indonesia. They should banned loudspeaker in mosques. They are very annoying!

  17. Chris says:

    Sorry, but I couldn’t resist.

    Here is a scene from “Monty Python’s The Life of Brian”, where a blasphemer is about to be stoned to death.

    Unfortunately, it doesn’t include the bit at the start where it says that women are not allowed to attend.

  18. JenHopkins says:

    He should have asked the politely. It could have been avoided.

  19. irwan the tukang komen says:

    Hello David,

    It is common in Malaysian mosque to blast the speaker early in the morning. And it is also considered blasphomous here if anybody complain about the amplitude of the wave. Leave alone walking into a mosque and unplugging the stereo before the songs reach the chorus.

    However, those vandalising Mr. Gregory’s retreat will endup in jail if they practice the same street justice here.

    read more of this comment here:

  20. Jack says:

    “This crime called blasphemy was invented by priests for the purpose of defending doctrines not able to take care of themselves”
    – Robert Green Ingersoll

    Hopefully Muslims will, one day, feel their religious beliefs are strong enough to stand up to criticism rather than suppress other views by violent means.

    What irks me the most is the “mitigating circumstances”… so the judge is saying that since the defendant is a Muslim he will get more leniency, thus, logically, if he were not a Muslim, then he would get a fuller sentence. I am not Indonesian, are there two systems of justice? One for Muslims, and an apparently harsher one for non-Muslims? Indonesians do not see this statement as a problem? Wow. In the USA, a judge did the same thing, referring to how good a Christian the defendant in the case was, so leniency
    was due. The judge got a bit of tongue lashing for that, and might face inquiry. All citizens should
    be treated equally under any legal system, in any country in this world!!

    Punish one, but the mob is allowed to go free? Vigilantism is okay too in Indonesia? If it were Christians sacking a Muslim mans house for pulling the plug, you do not thing that they would be charged with a crime? I thought Indonesia was not the same as Pakistan or someplace. I have traveled to Indonesia a few times and I thought it was a more moderate and fair country, I guess I was wrong. So much for going to see beautiful Lombok. I might inadvertently do something “blasphemous” and get lynched by a mob 🙂 who will later be cheered rather than punished. What a world we live in.

  21. zakton says:

    Ransacking his house was an over-reaction. After the ransacking, he has been way over-punished, he doesn’t deserve a single night in jail after that.

  22. Mas Rob says:

    I keep on wondering what happened before the reported incident. I wouldn’t be surprised if there were aready tensions between Gregory Luke and the community surrounding his guesthouse. Things like this hardly ever happen just out of the blue.

  23. Okky says:

    Man, I wish I could do the same to the mushalla here hehehe don’t get me wrong though, I’m a Muslim myself, but sometimes there’s just too much noise, and where is the beauty in the prayer when it’s too loud? Thus, when a MUSLIM perceives a prayer reading from the mosque is too loud, then maybe IT JUST IS..
    He should’ve just approached the imam of the masjid rather than pull the plug off though hehehehehehehe

  24. Nic says:

    Haha.. thanks, Chris! I sooo much love Monty Phython in this context :-))

    I admire Switzerland for standing up and prohibiting its minarettes from bothering every citizien. I CAN`T make noise inside my appartment cause the neighbours may complain to the police, but the mosque can?? At 5am before I have to go to work 12 hours from 8am without a rest? Freedom of religion! Thank god..

  25. Chris says:

    It’s happened again, this time in Jember:

    Bule Australia Dihajar Warga

    Robert John GrantFor those who cannot understand Indonesian, an Australian guy living in Jember called Robert John Grant got beaten up for coming to the mosque and:

    – being drunk
    – wearing sandals in the mosque
    – turning up the volume (?!); perhaps he meant to turn it down but was drunk

    Mr Grant was later taken to the local police station, but not before the locals came to his house to beat him up. Mr Grant received an ear injury, while two locals were also injured, allegedly by Mr Grant. He was later transferred to Banyuwangi for his own safety and to defuse a potentially explosive situation with a mob outside the local police station.

  26. Chris says:

    Sayed Hasan of Banda Aceh is trying to complain about excessive mosque volume
    the polite, by the book way

    While some would suggest he is living in the wrong part of Indonesia, I feel the locals’ responses are indicative of a greater problem:

    – He has received death threats

    – Local community leaders have said he risks eviction from the village.

    However, he has received some messages of support in The Jakarta Post, including this curious one:

    The call is a thing of beauty and should be as perfect as possible. Sadly, so many mosques have badly set up sound systems and people who sound as if a dog is chewing their balls while the call to prayer is made.

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