Christina Schott reports on Indonesia's Blasphemy Law

Analysis, posted 11.27.2010, from Indonesia, in:

The Indonesian Constitutional Court has endorsed the country's controversial blasphemy law, which many liberal politicians and human rights activists regard as a relic of the past that could further exacerbate religious tensions. Christina Schott reports from Jakarta. "Infidel!" "Let us spill his blood!" These were the kind of threats Indonesian director Garin Nugroho had to endure in early April this year. In his capacity as a cultural expert, he testified before the highest constitutional court of his country that a 45-year-old blasphemy law wholly discouraged Indonesians from discussing religion, as it did not allow them the freedom to hold their own opinions. "This law is the biggest setback for democracy and pluralism in the history of our nation," the internationally-acclaimed filmmaker declared. The followers of various radical Islamic organizations, such as the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) or Hizb-ut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI), who were waiting outside the courthouse, were able to follow his testimony on a screen. They were clearly of a different opinion. Validation for the hardliners Nugroho got off lightly, however, in that he was only verbally abused. Four other experts were beaten and kicked on their way to court. The judges upheld the disputed paragraphs nonetheless. With only one vote against, the nine-person body decided in April that the old law was not unconstitutional and was "indispensable for religious harmony in the country". A coalition of Indonesian human rights groups under the leadership of the Wahid Institute had applied for a legal revision of the blasphemy law. In their opinion, the law, introduced after a coup attempt in 1965, contradicts the Indonesian constitution, which guarantees religious freedom.... [Excerpt- See URL for Full Text.] © Qantara.de 2010 Translated from the German by Charlotte Collins Editor: Lewis Gropp/Qantara.de