1st Edition

Islam, Blasphemy, and Human Rights in Indonesia The Trial of Ahok

By Daniel Peterson Copyright 2020
    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    238 Pages
    by Routledge

    Using the high-profile 2017 blasphemy trial of the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, as its sole case study, this book assesses whether Indonesia’s liberal democratic human rights legal regime can withstand the rise of growing Islamist majoritarian sentiment.

    Specifically, this book analyses whether a 2010 decision of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has rendered the liberal democratic human rights guarantees contained in Indonesia’s 1945 Constitution ineffective. Key legal documents, including the indictment issued by the North Jakarta Attorney-General and General Prosecutor, the defence’s ‘Notice of Defence’, and the North Jakarta State Court’s convicting judgment, are examined. The book shows how Islamist majoritarians in Indonesia have hijacked human rights discourse by attributing new, inaccurate meanings to key liberal democratic concepts. This has provided them with a human rights law-based justification for the prioritisation of the religious sensibilities and religious orthodoxy of Indonesia’s Muslim majority over the fundamental rights of the country’s religious minorities. While Ahok’s conviction evidences this, the book cautions that matters pertaining to public religion will remain a site of contestation in contemporary Indonesia for the foreseeable future.

    A groundbreaking study of the Ahok trial, the blasphemy law, and the contentious politics of religious freedom and cultural citizenship in Indonesia, this book will be of interest to academics working in the fields of religion, Islamic studies, religious studies, law and society, law and development, law reform, constitutionalism, politics, history and social change, and Southeast Asian studies.

    A note on translations and names

    Statement of appreciation

    1 Ahok and blasphemy – an introduction

    2 Liberal democracy and human rights in Indonesia

    3 Indonesian human rights discourse coalitions

    4 From Pramuka to trial

    5 A legal defence to blasphemy

    6 The verdict

    7 Legal literacy, fatwas, and the Majelis Ulama Indonesia

    8 Ahok and blasphemy – findings




    Daniel Peterson is a qualified lawyer and an Associate of the Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS) at the University of Melbourne, Australia.

    "This book deserves to be regarded as the definitive study of the Ahok trial, the blasphemy law, and the contentious politics of religious freedom and cultural citizenship in Indonesia. One hopes that the study will be read by legal scholars in Indonesia, since its findings are deeply relevant for Indonesian legal reform."

    Robert W. Hefner, Boston University