Indonesian Constitutional Court Hears Challenge to Blasphemy Law

On Thursday, the Constitutional Court in Jakarta held its first session to review Indonesia’s 1965 law against religious blasphemy. Since it was first enacted in 1965 as part of an effort to root out Communism and unify Indonesia, the Blasphemy Act has been invoked against Muslims, Christians, indigenous Javanese, atheists, and others whose religious beliefs do not fall neatly into one of the six official religions recognized by the Indonesian government. The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty filed an amicus brief with the Court this week in support of petitioners.

“The Blasphemy Act is irreconcilable with Indonesia’s international treaty obligations and its own constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion to all people,” said Angela C. Wu, International Director at the Becket Fund.

The Law on the Prevention of Blasphemy and Abuse of Religion imposes civil and criminal penalties, including up to five years imprisonment, for the practice of religions that are “similar to” but “deviate from” Indonesia’s six official religions. The late President Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid challenged the law with several human rights organizations.

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