Blog of the International Journal of Constitutional Law

Indonesia Blasphemy Hearing

The Indonesian Constitutional Court is holding a hearing on the legality of the nation’s 1965 Blasphemy Law. The law officially acknowledges six religions: Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, and Protestantism. It also essentially prohibits “religious based activities” that “resemble the religious activities of the religion in question, where such interpretation and activities are in deviation of the basic teachings of the religion.” This seems to prohibit alternative teachings. Indeed, the case emerged because the government banned a sect of Islam that viewed its founder as the last prophet of Islam.

Recently, BYU law professor Cole Durham testified before the Constitutional Court by video and argued that the law violates the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. By contrast, Indonesia’s Minister of Religious Affairs is arguing the law must be upheld to avoid developments like Islam and the Koran being interpreted at will.


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