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Outcry against Google Play App to report blasphemers in Indonesia has yet to been heard


After community complaints to Google Play Store the third party Indonesian blasphemy app can neither be downloaded or searched for outside of the Southeast Asian country but its still visible through the link


A Google Play App that stirred palpable fear in religious minorities in Indonesia and startled responses from others online appears to have been restricted to the region it serves after an outcry against its nefarious goals. According to the accompanying statistics a 1000+ Installs of this app have taken place and it has a 1.3 rating caused mostly by people expressing concern about the newest version of the Smart Pakem App which was approved by the Google Play store on 7 December 2018. 

The application "Smart Pakem Kejaksaan Tinggi DKI Jakartastill" appears to be available through the link, but is no longer searchable on the Google Play Store.

Smart Pakem lists its purpose is to “make it easier to find information and manage religion, belief flow and community organizations in the jurisdiction of DKI Jakarta,” with its features, including a “list of laws and regulations that regulate the activities of the flow of beliefs in the community,” and the ability to “report on the activities of religious schools, beliefs and mass organizations by the community.”

There are plenty of harmless religious apps that aid devotees of various religious persuasions to manage their own personal worship, but this app was rather designed to report allegations of blasphemy and other supposed breaches of Sharia Law of any supposed "deviant behaviour" to Indonesian authorities. (click here)

Those most vulnerable in Indonesia are thought by some human rights watch dogs be those without a religious belief registered on the official list, such as atheists or agnostics but that isn't necessarily so as anyone is vulnerable to allegations of making an offense against religion. 

According to concerned Islamic Scholar Rushd as-Safaa the problem with depending on peer-to-peer reporting of supposed "deviant behaviour" at will is that:

" 'Deviant' can of course be anything anyone wants it to be. It could be the Ahmadiyyah, who have already been ‘restricted’ by the MUI [Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body]; it could be religious minorities by someone bigoted or really anyone just looking to settle a score.

"These are Islamist tactics: They cannot capture the state, but they can create agitations and count on secular complacency or coopting from state authorities and/or the public.”  

Lara Hall, British Pakistani Christian Association (Australia) representative, was mortified when she initially came across the app and speaking to the societal disruption caused by these reporting devices said:

"I regards these sort of Apps as damaging to free speech and they only serve to will embolden people to use blasphemy laws as weapons.

"They hold no useful
purpose in a free and democratic society and are injurious to the rule of law. I have registered my alarm with Google Play and want them to remove this harmful App."

Several comments posted on the Google Play Store link were also not favourable and cited current concerns for extremist ideology and the treatment of minorities; congruence to principles of human rights in Googles corporate values; Indonesia's obligations to respect human rights with regards to International treaties they have signed.  

Emmanuel Anggit said:

"This application would lead to national disintegration in Indonesia. It enables anyone, including fanatic religious people to report any traditional beliefs as harmful.

Mr Anggit expressed further concern that despite "religious beliefs being protected by written national laws" that the negative influence of this app could "potentially make government officials ban the development of [traditional] religious beliefs" and that "persecution will happen to followers".

Pleading with Google Play he said:

"This application will only make [intolerance] worse. It is wrong on so many levels. Please take down this application. I live in Indonesia, and I know how the minorities will be treated after this application is widely used."

Catherine Rahadi said:

"Dear Google and Alpha; I believe your corporate values and culture that highly support transparency, diversity and multicultural environment will strongly disagree about this apps.

Expressing chagrin, Ms Rahadi pointed out the source of the app. She lamented:

"Although this app has been released by The Attorney General of Secretary of The Republic of Indonesia, this is an ultimate violation of human rights against the minority and some other beliefs in Indonesia." 

She then begged the Google Playstore to review and cancel the app to " prevent a violation of human rights".

A user identified only by the handle 'eroxaz', who cited international law to which Indonesia is party, argued:

"Following your own religious beliefs shouldn’t be a crime Indonesia is a party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights , which states that “everyone shall have the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.

"No one shall be subject to coercion which would impair his freedom to have or to adopt a religion or belief of his choice.”

Melissa A. Crouch also published a scholarly article in the Asian Journal of Comparative Law (16 April 2015) analysing the increasing use of Indonesia's blasphemy laws against religious minorities.

Her research indicates that the fear of draconian reactions due to blasphemy laws against those with divergent beliefs is a long-standing concern. Her Abstract states:

"A growing number of religious minorities have been prosecuted for the criminal offence of ‘insulting a religion’, specifically Islam, in Indonesia.

"Both local and international human rights organisations have condemned the perceived misuse of what is widely referred to in Indonesia as the ‘Blasphemy Law’. "

Wilson Chowdhry said:

"Given the considerable danger to religious minorities that already exists in Pakistan and other states with similar legislation by spurious blasphemy allegations related to social media, both for being convicted of blasphemy and extrajudicial killings, this app constitutes a disturbing trend.

"Jealous neighbours, land grabbers, spurred lovers, rivals on the playground or at work are empowered to strike down any innocent person by an anonymous accusation over an app.

"As we saw with the Imam who accused Asia Bibi, it did not matter that he was not present but being able to support the accusation against of a 'kaffir' was seen as an opportunity to in his estimation defend Islam.

"The pubic must do what we can to protect privacy and prevent behavior that promotes this level of anxiety in the community."

Freedom of Religion and Belief cannot be taken for granted in the information age. BPCA encourages anyone who sees an application like this in any language to let us know and to report it to the community standards of the media site or app store. 

British Pakistani Christian Association, continues to provide advocacy and humanitarian aid to Christians in Pakistan and the Pak-Christian diaspora. We cannot do it without your help please donate by clicking (here)

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