Blasphemy & The Godly State

By Dioputra Ilham | 22 Jun 2017
Issue of the Month | 0 Responses | 1575 Views

(By: Irawati Puteri/Translator: Anassari Salsabiil/Editor: Rizkina Aliya)

            The issue of blasphemy has currently been the talk of various layers of the Indonesian public. To view the matter with legal comprehensiveness, one must contemplate upon the philosophical basis of Indonesia’s anti-blasphemy law which is the curiously infallible Pancasila, the nation’s philosophische grondslag. In particular, the most observable relationship between religious blasphemy issues with the national principles is with the first of the five tenets, “Belief in the one and only God.”

The placement of the precept “The belief in one God” as the first principle of statehood presents logical consequences for Indonesia. In his book entitled Thoughts Upon the Pancasila (Beberapa Pikiran Sekitar Pancasila), Prof. Soediman Kartohadiprodjo stated that the precept contains one fundamental Indonesian idea, namely to faithfully accept that the state of Indonesia is a state based on godliness. Based on that, the Constitutional Court as the guardian of the constitution interprets through Ruling No. 19/PUU-VI/2008 that Indonesia is by no means a religious state based on one certain religion, however Indonesia is not a secular country that completely neglects religion and leaves religious affairs completely to the personal individual sphere either. In fact, it can be inferred from the two points displayed above that Indonesia is conclusively a state based on godliness (negara berketuhanan) rather than a state based on religion (negara agama). Therefore, the subsequent discussion is, how relevant is anti-blasphemy regulations in regards to Indonesia as a godly state?

Homogenous is certainly not an adjective that can be used to describe the Indonesian people. Even as a nation that prioritizes God, Indonesia cannot simply put aside its plural circumstances and prescribe a single path to salvation for every man, woman, and child. As a result, it must take certain measures to ensure that the integrity of the whole nation is intact and that every law and policy that it mandates must protect the various organized religions that exist. These very same laws must build a just and humane religious respect among Indonesian society.

Along with that, another essential obligation of Indonesia as a state in this case is to ensure the fulfillment of the right for every citizen to practice their respective religions as a form of mutual legal assistance in order to satisfy the people’s fundamental human rights. Therefore, it seems that the enactment of the No. 1/PNPS/1965 Presidential Decree on the prevention of misuse and/or desecration of religion (which ultimately led to Article 156 of the Indonesian Criminal Code) is soundly justified, which is to prevent conflict between different religious communities in Indonesia that may be caused by slander and words of insult upon a community’s beliefs.

Although it may seem that the anti-blasphemy law has considerable philosophical grounds, they are not immune from the other four tenets or sila. The correspondence between blasphemy laws and the other sila must not only emphasize that the integrity or “the unity of Indonesia” must be maintained, but also that “justice and humanity” must also be preserved. Religious defamation articles may be abused by those who do not hope for peace in diversity. To counter that, members of society as well as law enforcers must be able to return a sense of rationality and objectivity along with respect to the judicial process in regards to the issue of blasphemy that actualizes justice. Indonesia must also recognize that its responsibilities lies beyond maintaining the status quo because ass a proclaimed godly state, it cannot risk its diversity.

Irawati Puteri is currently a third-year law student at University of Indonesia and the Executive Director for the Indonesian Law Debating Society. She is an active debater and a prolific writer & legal researcher with works ranging from topics such as sexual violence to protecting the rights of traditional fishermen. Along with her academic prowess, she is also a stunning poet and novelist with her published first work Senja, Asa, dan Kata (2016) and her second upcoming novel Paper Wheels (2017).



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Kartohadiprodjo, Soediman. Beberapa Pikiran Sekitar Pantjasila. Bandung: Alumni, 1970.

Kitab Undang-Undang Hukum Pidana [Wetboek van Straftrecht]. Diterjemahkan oleh Moeljatno. Jakarta: Pradnya Paramita,1976.

Mahkamah Konstitusi Republik Indonesia. Putusan No. 19/PUU-VI/2008

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