The Jakarta Post
Legal experts are showing differences of opinion over the need to revoke the blasphemy articles in Indonesia’s penal code in a debate that has erupted after non-active Jakarta governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama was imprisoned recently for blasphemy.
Bivitri Susanti, a constitutional law expert from the Jakarta-based Jentera School of Law, said blasphemy articles, especially Article 156 (a) of the Criminal Code, were “problematic”.
“The parameters [of blasphemy] used in the article are not correct. It uses ‘public reaction’ as a parameter to define criminal aspects of alleged blasphemy, while in fact most criminal articles use ‘intention’ as a parameter,” Bivitri said as quoted by kompas.com on Friday.
Constitutional law expert Yusril Ihza Mahendra said blasphemy articles were still needed in Indonesia and the government needed to “protect all religions from any kind of insult”.
“For Indonesia, religion is fundamental. The forms of protection for religions can be found in criminal [blasphemy] articles,” he said in a statement made available to The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Yusril referred to a judicial review ruling at the Constitutional Court, which rejected an appeal to revoke the 1965 Blasphemy Law in 2009.
Blasphemy is regulated in Article 156 (a) of the Criminal Code, used by the court in Ahok’s case, and in the 1965 Blasphemy Law, formulated during former president Sukarno’s presidency. (mos/ebf)