Offensive to or deviations from

Is Indonesia a beacon of free speech and open discussion? Not exactly.

…just seven months ago, Indonesia’s highest court issued a landmark ruling widely considered to be a major setback to speech and religious rights. The Constitutional Court upheld the constitutionality of Indonesia’s Blasphemy Act, which criminalizes speech or acts considered offensive to government-approved religions as well as “deviations from teachings of religion considered fundamental by scholars of the relevant religion.”

So if someone should say that Mohammed was actually a very liberal feminist kind of guy who never said that women should be beaten for disobedience…that would be a crime in Indonesia? Interesting.

The Blasphemy Act provides for both civil and criminal penalties for those who insult approved religions and those who attempt to persuade others to adhere to unofficial religions. This translates into a de facto ban on proselytizing that lends itself to overly broad and arbitrary interpretations by local governments. For example, in September 2005, three Christian women were sentenced to three years imprisonment for conducting a Christian youth program, even though the Muslim children in the program had parental permission to attend, and none of the children had converted to Christianity.

I wonder what happened to the parents who signed those permission slips.


6 Responses to “Offensive to or deviations from”