Aggravating religious intolerance is raising concerns over Indonesia’s future, say the University of Indonesia students and alumni, many of whom participated in the 1998 movement to end Suharto’s regime and lead the country towards open democracy that is free from discrimination.
“We, the big family of the University of Indonesia (KBUI) see the recent political developments as far from the 1998 reformation goals, for which we fought 19 years ago. We rue the recent rise of intolerance and discrimination,” Donny Ardiantoro of the KBUI said in a press meeting in Central Jakarta on Thursday (18/05).
The KBUI has called for the blasphemy law to be repealed, saying it only exasperates religious and ethnic intolerance.
Religious and ethnic tensions have run high in recent months amid a polarizing campaign surrounding Jakarta’s gubernatorial election.
Last week’s guilty verdict in a blasphemy case of non-active Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama has been seen as a major setback for Indonesia’s religious tolerance.
The university’s students and alumni have lashed out at the verdict, in which the Christian of Chinese descent was sentenced to two years in prison amid pressure from hardline Muslim organizations.
“The blasphemy law is a legal product that goes against democracy, human rights and the national diversity,” Reinhard Sirait of the KBUI said in a statement on Thursday (18/05).
“At the very least, a moratorium on the use of the law should be imposed,” Reinhard said.
Last week’s verdict has drawn widespread criticism from human rights activists and triggered calls for the government to review the law.
Activists are also pushing for the blasphemy law to be repealed during an ongoing deliberation on revisions to the criminal code at the House of Representatives.