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UK News

New law introduced in Indonesia could cause potential threat for Christians

by Alex Collett

Indonesia is set to expand it's controversial blasphemy law, which has been condemned by critics as a threat to civil liberties, including those of religious minorities.

The country's President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced the next step in drafting a new criminal code on 3rd August 2022. 

Persecution analyst, Thomas Muller, with Open Doors World Watch Research, said: "The blasphemy legislation is intended to 'protect' all recognised religions, including Christians. 

"However, the reality is that in a country where just under 80 percent of the population is Muslim, it is often Muslims who will call on this law. 

"The blasphemy law is prone to become an instrument in the campaign toolbox of politicians, harping on fears against other religions, the West in general or even just the idea of change."

The 2019 law text showed an expanded definition of blasphemy, which included defaming a religion and making noise near a house of worship.

It upheld a maximum prison sentence of five years for anyone hostile to those belonging to one of the six state-recognised religions, which includes Christianity.  

According to Human Rights Watch, from the original law that was passed in 1965, more than 150 people, mostly from religious minorities, have been convicted of blasphemy.

On Open Doors' 2022 World Watch List, Indonesia is ranked at number 28, of an annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.  

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