“Smart Pakem,” was launched in Indonesia last month, at the request of the government, as a method to preserve and uphold sharia law. It allows friends and neighbors to “target” any people with “misguided” beliefs and those who violate the religious law.
Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, with an estimated Muslim population of 207 million, and the country’s criminal code forbids blasphemy, which is defined as “the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things.”
The Code’s Article 156(a) states that those who deliberately, in public, “express feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt against religion,” can incur penalties, including a maximum of five years in prison.
The National Secular Society (NSS) has written to Anadan asking Google not stock the app. Although they generally attack Christians, they argue the app will have “negative consequences for religious minorities and will further minimize freedom of expression.”
According to Human Rights Watch, “125 people were convicted of blasphemy in Indonesia between 2004 and 2014, and 23 additional people have been convicted since 2014.”
Stephen Evans, who serves as the chief executive of NSS, said Google’s decision to stock the Sharia app was “incongruous with Google’s mission statement” and “runs directly contrary to the democratic ideals which Google says it stands for.”
Google is defending those ‘ideals’ before congress right now.
Evans argued the app will “normalize restrictions on freedom of expression in Indonesia and elsewhere”.
“NSS, which works to repeal blasphemy laws around the world, strongly condemned Indonesia’s blasphemy law.”
“Indonesia’s blasphemy law is a morally unjustifiable tool of repression which should be repealed as soon as possible. While this law exists anyone who believes in free expression should make it as difficult as possible for the Indonesian government to enforce the law.
“Google has greatly benefited from the freedom to share information globally. We ask it and other multinational companies to consider whether they can in good conscience profit from the repression caused by governments’ crackdowns on free speech.”
Since the app’s launch, it has received massive amounts of criticism.
But, of course, many people agree that controlling the thoughts and expressions of others is a cherished Google dream, so the fact that they approved this app is not surprising.