The Constitutional Court on Thursday (14/12) rejected a petition by a conservative group to make extramarital and same-sex relationships illegal. (Antara Photo/Rosa Panggabean)

House Should Defend Blasphemy Law Despite Calls for Judicial Review: Lawmaker

BY :ALIN ALMANAR

NOVEMBER 24, 2016

Jakarta. The House of Representatives should defend current regulations on blasphemy despite mounting calls for a judicial review, a lawmaker said.

The calls come amid blasphemy accusations against Jakarta Governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, a Christian of Chinese descent, who was named a suspect in the case last week.

The governor is accused of having committed blasphemy during a campaign speech on Pramuka Island in Jakarta's Thousand Islands district during September. In his speech, Ahok reportedly said nobody should manipulate verses of the Koran for political gain.

Ahok allegedly violated the so-called blasphemy law that has been on the books since 1965. According to Nasir Djamil of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the law should remain intact.

"Otherwise the religious situation in the country will become chaotic," the member of House Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, said in Jakarta on Thursday (24/11).

"These regulations are absolutely necessary to serve as guidelines for law enforcers," he added.

The case saw a wave of demonstrations against the governor, but it has also increased calls for the revocation of the blasphemy law.

Human rights activists filed requests for judicial reviews in 2008 and 2013, but the Constitutional Court rejected it on both occasions on the grounds that the law was necessary to maintain public order.

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