The Ministry of Religious Affairs in Indonesia is preparing revisions to the country’s so-called Religious Rights Protection Bill that would significantly expand the definition of blasphemy and allow harsher punishments for the crime of insulting religion.
A major change to the law would be a broadened classification of the offence of blasphemy – which is currently “showing hostility, abuse, or desecration” towards a faith, its scriptures or institutions – to seven different kinds of blasphemy with varying periods of imprisonment from six months to five years.
Releasing an unofficial translation, Human Rights Watch (HRW) claims that the Religious Rights bill will simply further jeopardise minority rights in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation. The group says parliament is expected to be presented the bill before the end of 2017.
“The misnamed religious rights bill is nothing less than a repackaging of highly toxic regulations against religious minorities in Indonesia,” said HRW’s Indonesia researcher Andreas Harsono on Friday.
Dr Ken Setiawan, an expert in socio-legal studies and human rights at the Asia Institute, University of Melbourne also expressed concern, telling Asian Correspondent that “it’s not about religious rights, it’s about the curtailing of them.”
Recall that the Christian governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, was in May, sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy against Islam.
Meanwhile, Open door Ranks Indonesia 46 in Christian Persecution.