Hate speech should be controlled to protect religious harmony and national unity, a top police officer said.
“Freedom of speech is not absolute. It should respect the views of others and should not jeopardize national security as well as public order,” Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, who once served as operational chief of the National Counter terrorism Agency (BNPT) was quoted by the Kompas daily as saying.
Hate speech is not a crime under Indonesian law and this has posed a challenge to government efforts to stem the tide of radicalism.
Former BNPT chief Ansyaad Mbai has made a similar case in the past.
He said hate speech permeated sermons even in places such as mosques attached to government offices. He has urged Indonesian lawmakers to amend the terrorism law to include provisions on hate speech.
In March, the Indonesian government decided to block 22 websites over concerns about the spread of alleged Islamic State (IS) propaganda online.
The move quickly backfired, with free speech proponents and Muslims groups saying it was a hark back to the authoritarian rule of the late President Suharto.
The government argued that under the 2008 Information and Electronic Transactions (ITE) Law they can suspend specific websites with” negative content”, though it does not specify the procedure.
Indonesia has seen five major terrorist attacks in the past 15 years, including the first Bali bombing in 2002, which killed more than 200 people, most of whom were foreign tourists.
The country has not suffered a major attack since the bombing of the J.W. Marriott and Ritz-Carlton hotels in 2009.