Monday, January 4, 2010

"Defamation" Resolutions: Restricted Liberty Impaired Rights

Several excellent articles have been written about the (unintended?) consequences of the UN's resolutions Combating Defamation of Religions. Now two courageous writers have added a new dimension to the discussion by generalizing about the consequences on the ground and naming the prime offender.

Abuse of Religious Freedom Hurts Indonesia And Renders God Defenseless by Muh Taufiqurrohman and Rebecca Lunnon is clear, specific and well written. If their lives are shortened as a consequence of the publication of their article, I will not be surprised.

Besides identifying the problem and suggesting solutions, the authors have identified the principal antagonist.
In addition to harmonizing these outdated laws, the government needs to replace problematic statutes like the 1965 Law on Prevention of Abuse and Defamation of Religions, the 2006 Revised Joint Ministerial Decree on the Construction of Houses of Worship and the 1978 Guidelines for the Propagation of Religion with an all encompassing law guaranteeing religious freedom. Such a law could be written along the lines of the Australian Constitution, which prohibits the government from making any laws to establish a religion, impose religious observance or prohibit the free exercise of religion. The law should give all individuals the freedom to express a diversity of views, as long as they do not incite religious hatred or violate the rights of others. [...]

The government also must address the violation of religious freedom and human rights made possible by the existence of religious institutions such as the Coordinating Board for Monitoring Mystical Beliefs in Society (Bakor Pakem) and the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI). Tasked with monitoring and resolving instances of deviant interpretation of religious doctrine, Bakor Pakem’s authority has increased state intervention in religious issues in a way that clearly violates the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.

The Related Articles sidebar links to two specific examples of violent abuse. Everyone who is concerned about the erosion of religious liberty should click the title link and read the entire article.

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