US Ambassador Joseph Donovan called on government and religious leaders across the archipelago on Wednesday (10/05) to speak out against intolerance. While the ambassador did not specifically refer to the recent conviction of incumbent Jakarta Governor Basuki “Ahok” Tjahaja Purnama, Donovan did say that blasphemy laws jeopardize the right to freedom of religion and expression.
“We [the United States] do not believe that it should be illegal to express opinions about a particular religion,” the ambassador said. “We believe that blasphemy laws anywhere in the world jeopardize freedom of religion, expression, assembly and freedom of the press.” He added that with Indonesia’s commitment to religious tolerance and pluralism, “[the United States] commends government and religious leaders that speak out against intolerant actions.” On Tuesday, a European Union delegation to Indonesia made similar calls on the government, warning that “laws that criminalize blasphemy when applied in a discriminatory manner can have a serious inhibiting effect on freedom of expression and on freedom of religion or belief.”
British Ambassador Moazzam Malik tweeted on Tuesday that he “believes [Ahok] is not anti-Islam” and said Indonesian leaders must work to protect tolerance and harmony in the country. (JakartaGlobe.com)