The Financial Times wrote about archaic blasphemy laws and their growing influence in the modern political realm. The article specifically mentions Ahok, a Christian candidate for governor of Jakarta whose chance at reelection was destroyed by trumped up blasphemy charges. They argue accurately that, “Even many conservative Muslims in Indonesia do not believe Ahok insulted Islam. They worry that the political abuse of this law could lead to a flare-up of the ethnic and religious violence that has punctuated Indonesia’s history since independence in 1945.” They aver that Indonesia’s move to ban one of the many hardline Muslim groups will have little effect. What the government should do instead is abolish archaic laws such as the blasphemy law that are being abused to persecute religious minorities.
5/21/2017 Indonesia (Financial Times) – Since biblical times the charge of blasphemy has been accompanied by a strong whiff of political persecution. Many European countries still have outdated blasphemy laws on their books, but this nebulous concept is now most often used by Muslim-majority nations as a tool to suppress critics and minorities.
In ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia, where unfair trials can lead to execution, new laws introduced in 2014 define atheism as terrorism — conveniently outlawing criticism of the government and its understanding of Islam. But perhaps a more worrying development is the growing tendency for traditionally tolerant Muslim-majority countries across South and Southeast Asia to employ outdated and vague blasphemy laws in the persecution of political rivals.