The 4 Freedoms Library

It takes a nation to protect the nation

Woman who complained of loud azan could be convicted on blasphemy charges

by Mathias Hariyadi

Prosecution calls for an 18-month sentence citing a fatwa. In July 2016, her complaint triggered one of the worst episodes of sectarian violence against ethnic Chinese Buddhists. Human rights activist calls for the repeal or modification of the law on religious defamation.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – An ethnic Chinese Buddhist woman resident in Tanjung Balai (North Sumatra province) could get of 18 months in prison for "offending Islam".

Meiliana (pictured), 44, is accused of blasphemy. In 2016 she complained that the azan (the Islamic call to prayer) at a mosque near her home was "too noisy" and "harmful" to her ears.

In the world’s most populous Muslim country, any comment on Islam is a delicate issue and the consequences can be dire.

In their case before the District Court in the provincial capital, Medan, prosecutors called for a conviction of the accused woman, citing a fatwa issued by the local chapter of the Council of the Indonesian Ulema (MUI), which described her remarks as "blasphemous".

When she complained in July 2016, one of the worst episodes of sectarian violence in the Tanjung Balai regency followed.

Claiming to be offended, groups of Islamic extremists burnt at least six Buddhist temples and houses of prayer. Seven of the attackers were tried and sentenced but only to a few months in prison.

Andreas Harsono, a member of Human Rights Watch, criticised the "excessive flexibility" of the rules governing religious defamation, like Article 156A of the Penal Code of Indonesia.

The latter “dates back to 1965,” Harsono said. “For almost 40 years or five presidential terms, it was used only eight times. However, during the Yudhoyono administration (2004-2014), the law was enforced in 89 cases, with 25 people sent to prison. Under Widodo, who was elected in 2012, there have been 22 cases, including the trial of the former governor of Jakarta and that of Meiliana."

The activist calls on the Indonesian government to repeal or modify the existing legislation in order to reduce the possibility that other people might be punished by "unjust rules".

Located a six-hour drive from Medan, Tanjung Balai is a small town where several, mostly Muslim ethnic groups live. They include indigenous Melayu, Javanese migrants from Central and East Java, Batak from the North Sumatra, and finally Nias, from the homonymous island. Ethnic Chinese Buddhist are a minority and have experienced episodes of intolerance in the past.

In 2011, a Muslim filed a complaint after a large statue of Buddha was erected at the Tri Ratna prayer house. Rallies and protests followed during which Islamists claimed that the sculpture would "damage the image of Tanjung Balai as a Muslim city".

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Mission Overview

Most Western societies are based on Secular Democracy, which itself is based on the concept that the open marketplace of ideas leads to the optimum government. Whilst that model has been very successful, it has defects. The 4 Freedoms address 4 of the principal vulnerabilities, and gives corrections to them. 

At the moment, one of the main actors exploiting these defects, is Islam, so this site pays particular attention to that threat.

Islam, operating at the micro and macro levels, is unstoppable by individuals, hence: "It takes a nation to protect the nation". There is not enough time to fight all its attacks, nor to read them nor even to record them. So the members of 4F try to curate a representative subset of these events.

We need to capture this information before it is removed.  The site already contains sufficient information to cover most issues, but our members add further updates when possible.

We hope that free nations will wake up to stop the threat, and force the separation of (Islamic) Church and State. This will also allow moderate Muslims to escape from their totalitarian political system.

The 4 Freedoms

These 4 freedoms are designed to close 4 vulnerabilities in Secular Democracy, by making them SP or Self-Protecting (see Hobbes's first law of nature). But Democracy also requires - in addition to the standard divisions of Executive, Legislature & Judiciary - a fourth body, Protector of the Open Society (POS), to monitor all its vulnerabilities (see also Popper). 
1. SP Freedom of Speech
Any speech is allowed - except that advocating the end of these freedoms
2. SP Freedom of Election
Any party is allowed - except one advocating the end of these freedoms
3. SP Freedom from Voter Importation
Immigration is allowed - except where that changes the political demography (this is electoral fraud)
4. SP Freedom from Debt
The Central Bank is allowed to create debt - except where that debt burden can pass across a generation (25 years).

An additional Freedom from Religion is deducible if the law is applied equally to everyone:

  • Religious and cultural activities are exempt from legal oversight except where they intrude into the public sphere (Res Publica)"

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