Indonesian citizens use Islamic “heresy” app to report “misguided” religious beliefs

5 December 2018

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A new free app created by the Indonesian government, “Smart Pakam”, is described as a tool to educate Muslims on “misguided” or “heretical” beliefs and enable them to instantly to report possible violations. Users are encouraged to report beliefs ambiguously described as “harmful”, and can upload photos as evidence.

The app was created by the government body Bakor Pakem – The Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society – a powerful influence in the Indonesian legal system. According to Human Rights Watch, 100% of those reported to the body have been convicted of “blasphemy”, “defamation” or other charges.

Islamists encouraged mass street protests after Ahok, the Christian governor of Jakarta, was accused of blasphemy

The country’s minority faith communities, particularly Christians and Ahmadiyya Muslims have raised concerns that the app could violate religious freedoms and cause profound divisions in society.

­Amiruddin Al-Rahab, a commissioner at Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights, commented in local news sources, “It is contradictory to the government’s desire to create a culture of mutual respect and tolerance, which is why I have asked the government and the attorney general to take it down.” Mr ­Al-Rahab warned of serious potential consequences including social disintegration, persecution, violence and discrimination.

Christians make up at least 15% of the population of Indonesia, which has the largest Muslim population of any country in the world. Until a generation ago, Muslims and Christians lived peaceably as equals, but since the 1980s the role of Islam in public life has dramatically increased. The Christian former governor of the capital Jakarta, “Ahok” Tjahaha Purnama, was sentenced to two years in jail for blasphemy following accusations by Islamists in 2016.

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