Conservative activist and author Laura Loomer reported this week on an app currently available through the Android system that will allow Muslims in Indonesia to report on individuals who insult Islam or commit the crime of blasphemy. Created at the request of the Indonesian government, the “Smart Pakem” app is a tool for everyday citizens to make sure their friends and neighbors are abiding by Sharia law. Those who violate its precepts can now be reported straight to the government…and Google, via either their tacit or direct approval, is supporting this sick technology.
From Laura Loomer:
Indonesia’s criminal code prohibits blasphemy, which is defined as “the act or offense of speaking sacrilegiously about God or sacred things”.
The Code’s Article 156(a) targets those who deliberately, in public, “express feelings of hostility, hatred, or contempt against religion”. The penalty for violating Article 156(a) of Indonesia’s criminal code is a maximum of five years imprisonment.
Rajan Anandan, who serves as the VP of Google in south-east Asia, has not shown any resistance to the app, which is available in the Google app store.
The National Secular Society (NSS) has since written to Anadan requesting the Google not stock the app in the app store, arguing that the app will have negative consequences for religious minorities and will further minimize freedom of expression.
In a statement, the NSS said that Google had no business supporting an app that would only serve to stifle free speech.
“Indonesia’s blasphemy law is a morally unjustifiable tool of repression which should be repealed as soon as possible,” they wrote. “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.”
A spokesman for the Jakarta prosecutor’s office attempted to defend the app, though his stated defense may ring hollow among those who believe in free expression.
“The objective,” said spokesman Nirwan Nawawi, “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.”
It is tempting to shrug and wave this off as “Indonesia’s business,” and to be sure, there is an element of truth in that attitude. On the other hand, Google is an American company that claims to stand for free speech and free access to global information. Their internal politics aside, it should not be a matter of extraordinary controversy to remove this app from their official store. To support Sharia law is to support the spread and growth of Islamism, which is to support (actual) oppression, which is to support extremist groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.
It would be very easy for Google to take a stand on this issue, which makes it all the more puzzling that they won’t.