Blasphemy laws jeopardize freedom: US ambassador

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – US Ambassador to Indonesia, Joseph Donovan Jr Ambassador, has stated that blasphemy laws was jeopardizing the freedom of religion, expression, assembly and freedom of press.

He made the statement in Jakarta, Wednesday, in response to the recent decision of the North Jakarta District Court, which found Jakarta Governor, Basuki Purnama, guilty of blasphemy against Islam and sentenced him to two years in jail, Tuesday.

“I am not going to specifically comment about the case, but I would like to say that religious freedom and freedom of speech are founding tenants of the United States, we cherish the freedom of all our citizens to speak freely about their opinions and their beliefs,” he said after speaking during a discussion panel themed From Drill Bit to Digital Bytes: Thoughts on a stronger US-Indonesia Economic Relationship, held in Wisma ANTARA, Jakarta, Wednesday.

He further stated that the United States does not condone actions that are intended to offend any religious groups.

“However, we do not believe that it should be illegal to express an opinion about a religion,” he remarked.

The US, he continued, recognized Indonesia’s commitment to religious tolerance and pluralism, and it lauded the government and religious leaders who speak out against intolerant actions.

The North Jakarta District Courts panel of judges decided to detain Purnama, after the court found him guilty of religious blasphemy and sentenced him to two years’ imprisonment, Tuesday.

The sentence was heavier than the two years of probation that the state prosecutors had recommended earlier.

He was brought to the Cipinang prison in East Jakarta shortly after the hearing, as the court had ordered for the sentence to be carried out immediately.

Source: Antara News