Indonesia Court Fails to Overturn Archaic Blasphemy Law

Washington
Freedom House is disappointed with the decision by Indonesia’s constitutional court not to overturn the country’s archaic blasphemy law.
 
The court voted 8-1 yesterday to uphold a 1965 blasphemy law that criminalizes the “distortion” or “misrepresentation” of government-sanctioned religions. Moderate Muslim, human rights, and religious minority groups filed the petition to overturn the law, citing it as an affront to freedom of expression and freedom of religion.
 
“The Indonesian court missed an opportunity to demonstrate its commitment to the protection of freedom of speech as a fundamental human right by refusing to overturn the country’s blasphemy laws,” said Paula Schriefer, director of advocacy.
 
The law also bans public participation in any faith other than those recognized by the state including, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, and Confucianism. In 2008 the Ahmadiyya Muslim-minority sect was outlawed under the regulation. Justice Maria Indrati, the only woman on the court, voted against the ruling, stating that the law had troubling implications for human rights and that its vague wording allowed for abuse in implementation.
 
“The blasphemy law provokes extremism and has been used to justify discrimination and violence against minority groups,” said Courtney C. Radsch, freedom of expression officer. “This ruling is a setback for a country that ranks as one of the freest in the region.”
 
Indonesia is ranked Free in Freedom in the World 2010, Freedom House's survey of political rights and civil liberties, and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2009.
 
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