Share story

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesia’s parliament on Tuesday endorsed a presidential decree that gives officials sweeping powers to ban organizations deemed as threats to national unity.

The decree, signed in July by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, has already been used to ban Hizbut Tahrir, an Islamic organization that advocates for a global caliphate. It required parliamentary approval to become permanent law.

Lawmakers from 10 parties, including Widodo’s governing coalition, voted 314-131 to amend a law regulating mass organizations in line with the decree. More than three quarters of lawmakers in the 560-seat legislature were present for the vote.

Rights activists have condemned the decree, which is supported by moderate groups such as Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization. They called it a “troubling violation” of the rights to freedom of association and expression.

Minister of Home Affairs Tjahjo Kumolo said the government was open to criticism of the law and revision if needed.

The decree allows officials to sidestep the courts when banning organizations it deems contrary to the country’s constitution.

It was issued following months of sectarian tensions in the world’s most populous Muslim nation that shook the government and undermined its reputation for practicing a moderate form of Islam.

Several thousand people from Muslim groups including the banned Hizbut Tahrir, a group that campaigned for Indonesia to adopt Shariah law and become a caliphate, protested outside parliament.