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ICC Note

This month, Indonesia courts imprisoned Jakarta’s former Christian governor, Basuki “Ahok” Purnama for blasphemy. Muslims filed the blasphemy charge using a quote taken out of context. They accused him of misrepresenting a verse from the Koran. Before this charge, both Muslims and Christians looked at Purnama with high esteem and agreed with the work he was doing in Indonesia. Once Purnama was charged with blasphemy, Muslims actively lobbied against him, which ensured that he lost his re-election bid. Christians will suffer as a Muslim governor is in charge and the use of blasphemy charges retains its validity. However, moderate Muslims now realize that the blasphemy law is contradictory to its actual purpose because almost anyone can be charged and convicted for blasphemy, including being framed. Therefore, the Muslims want the blasphemy law repealed.

2017-05-22 Indonesia (The National) –Moderate Muslim leaders and human rights activists have renewed calls for the repealing of Indonesia’s 1965 blasphemy law after the ethnic-Chinese Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Purnama was convicted and jailed for misusing a verse in the Quran.

They say the growing use of the law, enshrined in Indonesia’s criminal code, inhibits free speech and has left Christians and other minorities feeling marginalised in a Muslim-majority nation whose secular constitution is meant to protect religious freedom.

There were only eight cases of blasphemy during authoritarian leader Suharto’s 32-year rule, including one in which a tabloid editor was jailed for five years for publishing a popularity poll that put the Prophet Mohammad in eleventh place.

But Human Rights Watch records 106 cases alone during the decade-long presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose efforts to curry favour with conservative religious leaders is now widely blamed for the growing intolerance in Indonesian society.

Even now, blasphemy remains in the government-proposed draft of the revised criminal code. It is still being deliberated in parliament, although it has now been moved from “crimes against public order” to “crimes against religion”.

Critics want it abolished altogether.


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