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Religious Extremists Exploit Blasphemy Laws in Indonesian Election, Says USCIRF

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2019
 

Religious Extremists Exploit Blasphemy Laws in Indonesian Election, Says USCIRF

 

WASHINGTON, DC – Following the completion of Indonesia’s April 17 general elections, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) today expressed grave concerns about the politicization of religion during the campaign season. In particular, the use of the country’s blasphemy law by hardliners and other intolerant groups to attack political candidates for their religious beliefs is alarming.

“The fact that extremist individuals and groups have used Indonesia’s blasphemy law as a campaign tool shows that the law, rather than helping to prevent conflict, is ripe for abuse by some who seek to target and punish members of religious minorities. We urge the newly elected government to make protecting the religious freedom of all Indonesia’s citizens a priority by repealing the blasphemy law. We also urge the U.S. government to continue providing support to Indonesian civil society groups that monitor and educate the public about efforts by extremists to stoke intolerance and other threats to religious pluralism," said USCIRF Vice Chair Gayle Manchin.

In October 2018, Manchin and fellow commissioner Nadine Maenza visited Jakarta, Surabaya and Medan, and met with Indonesian government officials, members of civil society and religious leaders. In January, USCIRF warned about the threat the country’s blasphemy law poses to religious minorities.

USCIRF has placed Indonesia on its Tier 2 list for engaging in or tolerating religious freedom violations that meet at least one of the elements of the “systematic, ongoing, egregious” standard used to designate a “country of particular concern,” or CPC, under the International Religious Freedom Act.

 

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The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) is an independent, bipartisan federal government entity established by the U.S. Congress to monitor, analyze and report on threats to religious freedom abroad. USCIRF makes foreign policy recommendations to the President, the Secretary of State and Congress intended to deter religious persecution and promote freedom of religion and belief. To interview a Commissioner, please contact USCIRF at Media@USCIRF.gov or Kellie Boyle at kboyle@uscirf.gov or +1-703-898-6554.

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