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    People use their mobile phones to take pictures as a Shariah law official whips a woman who is convicted of prostitution during a public caning outside a mosque in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, Friday, April 20, 2018. Indonesia's deeply conservative Aceh province on Friday caned several unmarried couples for showing affection in public and two women for prostitution before an enthusiastic audience of hundreds. The canings were possibly the last to be carried out before large crowds in Aceh after the province's governor announced earlier this month that the punishments would be moved indoors

    Indonesia’s New Heresy Reporting App Draws Condemnation From Rights Groups

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    A new Indonesian government app that allows the public to report suspected cases of religious heresy is being condemned by human rights groups, who warn that the app could lead to the persecution of minorities in the country with the largest Muslim population in the world.

    The app, which is called "Smart Pakem," was created by Jakarta's Prosecutor's Office. It was launched Sunday in the Google Play store, according to the Bangkok Post. However, searches for the app in the Indonesian and US Google Play stores do not currently yield any results. 

    Users of the app can report any people or groups that do not follow the canonical views of Indonesia's six officially recognized religions: Islam, Hinduism, Protestantism, Catholicism, Confucianism and Buddhism. The purpose of the app, according to the Prosecutor's Office, is to enhance the current heresy reporting process.

    In addition, the app features a list of religious edicts and blacklisted organizations so users can more easily file complaints, instead of going through the lengthier process of sending a written complaint to the Prosecutor's Office.

    "The objective… is 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," Nirwan Nawawi, a spokesperson for the Prosecutor's Office, told AFP in a recent statement.

    However, human rights groups are concerned that the app could lead to discrimination against religious minorities in the Southeast Asian country, where people of non-recognized faiths have long suffered persecution. 

    "This is going from bad to worse — another dangerous step to discriminate [against] religious minorities in Indonesia," Human Rights Watch researcher Andreas Harsono recently told AFP.

    Earlier this year, a mob destroyed the homes of a small community of the Ahmadiyya Islamic minority in Lombok, an Indonesian island east of Bali and west of Sumbawa, after the Indonesian Ulema Council — the country's Muslim clerical body — deemed the sect heretical, the Bangkok Post reported.

    This summer, an ethnic Chinese Buddhist living in North Sumatra was sentenced to 18 months in prison for blasphemy for complaining that the Muslim call to prayer from her neighborhood mosque, repeated five times a day, was too loud, Reuters reported at the time.


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