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2 Blasphemy, Human Rights, and the Case of Ahok

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Chapter Summary

This article asks whether or not Indonesia’s national human rights law regime can withstand the rise of political Islam in contemporary Indonesia. If it cannot, using Alfred Stepan’s democratic theory of the ‘twin tolerations’, the article argues that the ideological ramifications for Indonesia’s nascent democracy are inherently illiberal and undemocratic. The findings of this article are based on two landmark blasphemy cases: the Indonesian Constitutional Court’s 2009-2010 material review of the country’s Blasphemy Law and the May 2017 decision of the North Jakarta State Court to convict the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, of blasphemy. Analysing both Ahok’s legal defence, as well as the judgment of the court, what becomes clear is that, as long as the Blasphemy Law prevails in contemporary Indonesia to the extent that it is used to stifle both public criticism of religion and mere doctrinal disagreement, the country’s national human rights law regime will effectively remain dormant indefinitely.



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