SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Islam, Blasphemy, and Human Rights – The Case of Ahok

Daniel Peterson (ACU)

Date: 25 October 2017Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 25 October 2017Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: 4426

Type of Event: Seminar


This paper asks whether or not Indonesia’s national human rights law regime can withstand the rise of political Islam in that country. If it cannot, using Alfred Stepan’s democratic theory of the ‘twin tolerations’, the paper argues that the ideological ramifications for Indonesia’s nascent democracy are inherently undemocratic. The findings of this paper are based on two landmark blasphemy cases: the Indonesian Constitutional Court’s 2010 material review of the country’s Blasphemy Law, and the May 2017 decision of the North Jakarta State Court to convict the former governor of Jakarta, Basuki ‘Ahok’ Tjahaja Purnama, of blasphemy. Analysing both Ahok’s legal defence, as well as the judgment of the court, what becomes clear is that, as long as the Blasphemy Law prevails in contemporary Indonesia, the country’s national human rights law regime will remain dormant.

Speaker Biography

Since commencing his Indonesian language studies at the age of eight, Daniel majored in Indonesian at Monash University and completed his honours thesis in Indonesian studies, where he examined the ideologies behind the first Bali bombings. In 2007, he completed the last semester of his Bachelor of Laws on exchange at Universitas Indonesia and then undertook a two-month internship at Baker and McKenzie’s Jakarta office, Hadiputranto, Hadinoto and Partners. While completing his Master of Laws at the University of Melbourne in 2008, he was invited by the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine to Timor-Leste to be its interpreter for a month where it conducted training for local police and mortuary officials in aspects of disaster victim identification, as well as a forensic investigation into the Santa Cruz massacre of 1991.

In 2010, following his admission to legal practice, Daniel worked as an Indonesian language legal translator for an environmental and OHS consultancy. He then taught Indonesian and Global Politics for two years at secondary school level, before last year completing short stints at the Sampoerna Foundation (in Jakarta) and the Australia-Indonesia Centre at Monash University.


Contact email: