Indonesia’s new ‘heresy app’ draws fire, Latest World News - The New Paper

Indonesia’s new ‘heresy app’ draws fire

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JAKARTA A new Indonesian government app that lets the public report suspected cases of religious heresy is drawing fire as rights groups warn it could aggravate persecution of minorities in the country.

Users can report groups practising unrecognised faiths or unorthodox interpretations of Indonesia's six official religions, including Islam, Hinduism, Christianity and Buddhism.

Smart Pakem, which was launched on Sunday and is available for free in the Google Play store, was created by the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, which said it would help educate the public and modernise the current reporting process.

The app will also list religious edicts and blacklisted organisations and will allow users to file complaints instantaneously, instead going through the cumbersome process of submitting a written accusation to a government office.

"The to provide easier access to information about the spread of beliefs in Indonesia, to educate the public and to prevent them from following doctrines from an individual or a group that are not in line with the regulations," a spokesman for the prosecutor's office, told AFP.

However, rights groups fear the application could be misused by powerful hardline Islamic groups and widen divisions in a country where harassment of religious and other minorities is not uncommon.

"This is going from bad to worse - another dangerous step to discriminate religious minorities in Indonesia," said Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono.

Hundreds of thousands of people across Indonesia who adhere to non-recognised animist and mystical faiths have long suffered discrimination.

Earlier this year, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist was jailed for insulting Islam after asking her neighbourhood mosque to lower its sound system during the daily call to prayer. - AFP