Religious Defamation – Deport Vo. I Ed. 6

Religion is highly respected in Indonesia as emphasised in article 28E of the amended 1945 constitution. Verse 1, for instance, states that every individual is free to embrace a religion and to worship in accordance with the convictions of that religion.Verse 2 continues on to state that every individual has the right to freedom, to hold a belief, and to express an opinion in accordance with his/her conscience.

However, the fact is that not all religions in Indonesia are recognised and treated equally. Only Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism are officially acknowledged by the government. In addition the right to freedom of religion/belief has been somewhat hindered by Law No 1/PNPS 1965.

Those in support of this law feel that thoughts or actions passed on to others can constitute a criminal act. In actual fact these kinds of actions may just be the way an individual practices his/her religious beliefs. The birth of religion and religious expression, in socio-anthropology and social psychology, are the deepest of expressions in response to current changes in the world. It is not fair to accuse an individual of religious defamation for claiming that his/her beliefs are religious teachings. We do indeed need to condemn ideologies or beliefs that are spread with terror, intimidation and violence.

However it is a curse for this nation when religious expression based on individual choice and belief becomes a criminal act.