JAKARTA: The Constitutional Court chief Mahfud MD said on Sunday that no one could be punished for being an atheist or communist, reaffirming his controversial statement on Indonesia’s freedom of religion, which he made last Tuesday.
Atheists and communists, he said, were considered in violation of the law if they formed an organization which acted against the state’s Pancasila ideology.
“They can only be punished if they breach laws or threaten [the nation’s ideology]. If they revive the Indonesian Communist Party [PKI] or establish an atheist organization, they can be sentenced for opposing Pancasila,” he said in Jakarta on Sunday evening as quoted by kompas.com.
Despite allowing people to adhere to atheism or communism, Indonesia maintains several laws that combat their existence. Several measures have been taken to make people in these groups equal to followers of other faiths, but such initiatives have so far failed.
Indonesia‘s ban on communism and Marxist/Leninist ideology is based on the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) Decree XXV/MPRS/1966.
The late president Abdurrahman Wahid had tried to revoke the decree, but eventually backed down amid widespread protests.