Indonesia rejects UN call to repeal blasphemy law

Rights group accuses govt of putting religious minorities at greater risk by trying to widen its scope
Indonesia rejects UN call to repeal blasphemy law

Indonesian supporters of former Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, also know as Ahok, push a gate at Cipinang Prison where he was imprisoned in Jakarta on May 9, 2017. The former Christian governor was jailed for two years after being found guilty of blasphemy, in a shock decision that has stoked concerns over rising religious intolerance in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation. (Photo by Adek Berry/AFP)

September 27, 2017
Indonesia has rejected recommendations by United Nations member states that it "introduce legislation to repeal the blasphemy law," which is bad news for beleaguered religious minorities, Human Rights Watch said Sept 25.

During the U.N’s recent periodic review of its rights record, Indonesia also rejected a recommendation it amend or revoke laws that limit the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in the country.

"These laws, and the blasphemy law in particular, have frequently been used to prosecute and imprison members of religious minorities," Andreas Harsono, Indonesia researcher at Human Rights watch said.

Recent victims include three former leaders of the Gafatar religious community, prosecuted for blasphemy following a forced eviction of more than 7,000 Gafatar members from their farms on Kalimantan Island last year.

Another was the Christian former Jakarta Governor, Basuki "Ahok" Purnama, sentenced to two years in prison in May.

Not satisfied with just ignoring U.N. calls to scrap the blasphemy law, Indonesia’s Religious Affairs Ministry wants to expand its scope through a Religious Rights Protection bill, according to Harsono.

"By rejecting pleas from U.N. member states to abolish the blasphemy law, the Indonesian government is telling the world that it will continue to pander to bigotry and discrimination at the expense of the rights of religious minorities," he said. 


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