July 18th, 2013 05:40 PM
KUALA LUMPUR — A Malaysian couple known for a sexually explicit blog were charged Thursday with sedition after they caused outrage by posting a Ramadan greeting on Facebook which showed them eating pork.
Alvin Tan, 25, and Vivian Lee, 24, pleaded not guilty to publishing or distributing a “seditious publication” and two other charges in a Kuala Lumpur district court in Muslim-majority Malaysia, a court official said.
They were denied bail and so will be jailed pending trial, she said. The next court date has been set for August 23.
Sedition is punishable by up to three years in jail.
The duo had posted a greeting for the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan on social networking site Facebook last week, showing a poster of them eating pork, which is forbidden in Islam.
They later apologized in a video on YouTube for the posting, which sparked widespread anger.
Their Facebook page is no longer accessible.
The other charges were causing disharmony on the grounds of religion and possessing or producing obscene material, which is punishable by up to five years in jail, the official said.
Prime Minister Najib Razak criticized the couple on Wednesday while discussing implementing a new law to replace the colonial-era sedition act, which has been slammed by critics as a tool to crack down on dissent.
“The insolent and impudent act by the young couple who insulted Islam showed that freedom of expression and irresponsible opinion can jeopardise the community,” he was quoted by The Star as saying.
Last year Lee, a kindergarten teacher, and Tan, who is currently unemployed and a former law student at the National University of Singapore, sparked outrage in Malaysia and Singapore by posting erotic photographs and videos of their lovemaking as well as close-ups of their genitals on a blog.
The duo, who said they aimed to destigmatize sex, shut down the blog because of family pressure in the conservative countries, where pornography is illegal.