Bishop of Coventry asks Government about violent extremism and blasphemy laws in Indonesia

On 18th July 2017 the Bishop of Coventry, Rt Revd Christopher Cocksworth, received written answers from Government to questions about blasphemy laws and violent extremism in Indonesia.

The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they are taking to assist the government of Indonesia in strengthening Indonesia’s resilience to violent extremism.

Baroness Goldie: The British Government has provided resilience assistance to the Indonesian government since the appalling terrorist attacks in Bali in 2002. Since then, the UK has supported Indonesian efforts to improve its capabilities in disrupting terrorist activity in Indonesia, particularly through the work of the Jakarta Centre for Law Enforcement Cooperation (JCLEC) which provides training to law enforcement officials and enables sharing of UK expertise. We remain concerned by current trends in violent extremism in Indonesia, including terrorist attacks such as in central Jakarta in January 2016. We are supporting work to increase community resilience to extremism as well as continuing efforts with the Indonesian authorities to counter violent extremism. This includes support for legal reform as well as the promotion of human rights.


The Lord Bishop of Coventry: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what representations they have made to the government of Indonesia that Indonesia’s blasphemy laws will not be applied in a discriminatory manner, including against those who do not practise one of the six religions recognised under Indonesian law.

Baroness Goldie: We raise these issues regularly and appropriately with the Indonesian government. We supported the EU statement, issued following the conviction of the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as ‘Ahok’) on blasphemy charges. This called on the Indonesian government, its institutions and its people to continue the long standing tradition of tolerance and pluralism in Indonesia and stated that laws criminalising blasphemy when applied in a discriminatory manner can have a serious inhibiting effect on freedom of expression and freedom of religion. Our Ambassador to Indonesia also publicly expressed concern about the blasphemy verdict against ‘Ahok’ on social media. More generally, and in meetings with political and religious leaders, the Ambassador and Embassy officials have actively cautioned against mixing issues of race, ethnicity and religion with politics.
In addition, we are also supporting the Indonesian parliament in their ongoing revision of the Indonesian Penal Code to encourage respect for human rights, including freedom of religion.


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