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Report: Challenges in Advancing Religious Freedom in Digital Indonesia

This post is also available in: Indonesia (Indonesian)

Over the past decade of rapid digitalisation, Indonesia has seen a rise in hate narratives and violations of freedom of religion or belief (FoRB) and freedom of expression (FoE) in digitally mediated public spaces. Religious minorities still face discrimination and limits to free expression, while the government continues to crack down on religious groups. This poses a serious impediment to the development of secular, inclusive, and open online spaces in a country where faith-based discrimination has long existed.

Late 2021, EngageMedia conducted research analysing the violations, restrictions, and limitations on information, communication, and digital rights that undermine digitally-mediated FoRB and FoE in Indonesia. Published on 3 June 2022, the report titled “In the Name of Religious Harmony: Challenges in Advancing Religious Freedom in Digital Indonesia” identifies the ways in which digitalisation facilitates novel forms of violations and limitations, and the roles played by religious institutions, online platforms, and law enforcement in mediating—or amplifying—religious tension. It also discusses how the combination of Indonesia’s colonial and authoritarian history, poor legislation, arbitrary enforcement of laws, and fractured civil society exacerbates these problems even further.

This report, co-authored by principal investigator Diani Citra (Sintesa Consulting) and Pradipa P. Rasidi (EngageMedia), is part of the “Challenging hate narratives and violations of freedom of religion and expression online in Asia” (Challenge) project conducted in collaboration with the Association for Progressive Communications.

“In the Name of Religious Harmony: Challenges in Advancing Religious Freedom in Digital Indonesia”, available in English and Bahasa Indonesia.

Report: Challenges in Advancing Religious Freedom in Digital Indonesia

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Editor’s Note (28 June 2022): EngageMedia has revised the report to take into account feedback received in a panel discussion during the research launch on 3 June 2022. The revision revolves around:

  • Sensitivity towards the differences between ‘recognised’ and ‘supported’ religion
  • The failings of the UU ITE law
  • The broader global and historical context of family regulation among conservative movements
  • The polarisation of civil society organisations in responding to perceived threats of ‘radical Islam’
  • The role of Facebook Oversight Board

EngageMedia thanks Leonard C. Epafras, Muhamad Isnur, and Sherly Haristya for their feedback on the report.

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