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Indonesia urged to review blasphemy article in draft Criminal Code

Civil society and human rights groups said the existence of the blasphemy article is “very worrying” in Indonesia

Civil society organizations urged the Indonesian government this week to review the blasphemy article in the country’s draft Criminal Code, warning that blasphemy laws “pose a threat to freedom of religion or belief and social harmony.”

They urged the Indonesian government and the parliament to use the opportunity afforded by the overhaul of the Criminal Code to substantially amend the existing legislation or repel it completely.

The latest version of the Criminal Code includes a blasphemy article that reads: “Anyone who expresses in public opinions or commits hostile acts or blasphemy against the religion professed in Indonesia shall be sentenced to a maximum imprisonment of 5 (five) years or a maximum fine of category V.”




Civil society and human rights groups said the existence of the blasphemy article is “very worrying” in Indonesia.

According to the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, Indonesia is one of the top ten countries that most frequently enforced blasphemy laws between 2014 and 2018.

The SETARA Institute and the Indonesia Legal Aid Foundation also reported that the number of blasphemy cases have increased in the past year.

“Now is a golden opportunity to revise or repeal the blasphemy article. If we do not do it, historical opportunities will be lost,” said Zainal Abidin Bagir, director of the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies.

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The crime of blasphemy has been part of Indonesian law since independence and has restricted the right to freedom of religion or belief, in particular of religious minorities, and threatened social harmony.

“We must ensure that the bill is not biased against minority groups because Indonesia is a pluralistic country,” said Luluk Nur Hamidah, a representative from the Legislative Council of the Parliament.

“We hope that the revision of the blasphemy law … will be carried out soon, as ordered by the Constitutional Court,” said Fitria Sumarni, of the Legal Committee of Ahmadiyah Congregation Indonesia.

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