12/01/2018, 01.53
INDONESIA
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App for reporting on religious heresies

Users can inform on people who hold unauthorised beliefs or unorthodox interpretations of the six religions recognised by the state. Human rights groups have criticised the software, arguing that it will only serve to undermine religious tolerance in the country.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office launched a new smartphone app that would allow Indonesian citizens to report suspected cases of religious heresy.

Users of the app can report groups practising unrecognised faiths or unorthodox interpretations of Indonesia’s six officially recognised religions, (Islam, Hinduism, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism and Confucianism).

It features a list of religious edicts issued by the country’s top Muslim clerical body, information on blacklisted organisations and a digital complaints form, which replaces the former cumbersome process of submitting a written accusation to a government office.

Information on the app will be updated every two months in accordance with data gathered from the religious affairs ministry, religious leaders and other sources of intelligence, the Prosecutor’s Office said.

Human rights groups have criticised the app saying that streamlining the process will only serve to further worsen religious tolerance in Indonesia, which has seen anti-minorities movements led by Islamic supremacists gather pace in recent years.

More importantly, rights defenders fear for the followers of traditional beliefs or new religious movements.

Although the world’s most populous Muslim nation is largely secular, Islamic conservatism is on the rise.

A recent study by the Indonesia Survey Institute showed that 38 per cent of Muslim respondents objected to non-Muslims performing their religious rites, a slight increase from 36 per cent last year. More than half of Muslim respondents also said that they objected to non-Muslims building religious facilities.

The country’s national commission on human rights, known as Komnas HAM, is calling for the removal of the Smart Pakem app from online stores. However, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology has said that further evaluation and assessment of public opinion is required before it can organise a meeting with the Prosecutor’s Office and Komnas HAM over the future of the app.

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