Google has approved a new Android app that is designed to allow Muslims to report people who commit blasphemy, insult Muslims, or criticize Islam.
The app, “Smart Pakem”, which is backed by the Indonesian government, will allow users and government officials to uphold Sharia law and target and report people who hold “misguided” beliefs in violation of Islamic law, which strictly bans criticism of Islam, insults against the Prophet Mohammed, or the recognition of any other religion besides Islam.
Big Tech companies in the US have banned and deplatformed rightwing activists and leaders, claiming they are dangerous and a threat to democracy, however Big Tech, including Google, continues to allow radical Islamic content on their platforms.
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.
According to Human Rights Watch, 125 people were convicted of blasphemy in Indonesia between 2004 and 2014. 23 additional people have been convicted since 2014.
Stephen Evans, who serves as the chief executive of NSS said said Google’s decision to stock the Sharia app was “incongruous with Google’s mission statement” and “runs directly contrary to the democratic ideals which Google says it stands for”. Evans also said the app will “normalize restrictions on freedom of expression in Indonesia and elsewhere”.
NSS, which works to repeal blasphemy laws around the world, strongly condemned Indonesia’s blasphemy law.
“Indonesia’s blasphemy law is a morally unjustifiable tool of repression which should be repealed as soon as possible. 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.”
Since the app’s launch in the Google app store, it has been flooded with one star reviews and criticisms by anti-Sharia and human rights advocates.