Conference on Minorities within Muslim Majority Societies

On 17-18 May 2013, I presented a paper at the conference on ‘Minorities within Muslim Majority Societies: Contested Identities and Dialogues with Islam‘, organised by the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations, Aga Khan University, London.

The workshop investigated issues surrounding the ethnic and religious composition of the Muslim world and its culture. By looking both at religious and ethnic minorities within the Muslim world and their unique social structures, the workshop discussed relationships between ethnicities and faith groups, and how issues of identity and power are negotiated. In particular, it examined the role that minorities play in Muslim majority societies and their interaction with the dominant social identity.

Policy paper: Trials of People Smugglers in Indonesia

On 21 May 2013, a policy paper, ‘Trials of People Smugglers in Indonesia: 2007-2012‘, written by Dr Antje Missbach and Dr Melissa Crouch was launched by the new Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society, at the University of Melbourne.

The policy paper addresses the critical need for greater knowledge and understanding of how the contemporary Indonesian legal system is dealing with people smuggling. It primarily presents the findings of a survey of court cases from May 2011 to December 2012, in the first year and a half of the operation of Law 6/2011 on Immigration. The paper identifies patterns in court cases in terms of the location of people smuggling operations, profiles of the accused, the criminal charges laid against them, and the severity of penalties handed down by the courts. The paper argues that any efforts to increase the scope and depth of such cooperation between Australia and Indonesia must take into account the progress made by, as well as the challenges confronting, law enforcement agencies in prosecuting people smugglers in Indonesian courts.

The policy paper is available to download here.

Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society

The Centre for Indonesian Law, Islam and Society (CILIS), located in the Melbourne Law School, was recently established, and will be officially launched on 21 May 2013. The Centre was previously known as the Centre for Islamic Law and Society, but has been renamed in order to reflect the focus of its research and seminar programmes.

More information on the Centre is available here.

Workshop Highlights Importance of Constitutional Reform

From 8 to 10 May 2013, Melissa participated in a workshop on Constitutional Law in Yangon, organised by the Sydney Law School. The conference was attended by members of parliament, lawyers, and civil society organisations.

 For media coverage of the event see below: Suu Kyi predicts charterchangeBangkok Post
2008 Constitution Bars Federalism Ethnic Leaders SayEleven Myanmar
Remove Severe Restrictions First to Amend MyanmarsConstitution, Eleven Myanmar
AungSan Suu Kyi Says Burma to Amend ‘World’s Most Difficult’ ConstitutionThe Irrawaddy

Myanmar Constitution Vest Military Chief With More Powerthan President, Says Foreign ExpertEleven Weekly

Amending Constitution Most Difficult in the World Suu KyiMizzima
Suu Kyi Pushes Constitutional Changes Before 2015Radio Free Asia
Can Suu Kyi remove constitutional barriers in advanceAsian Tribune

Background to the Workshop on Constitutional Law

Constitutional Reform Workshop in Myanmar

From 8-10 May 2013, Melissa will join a team of academics who are conducting a workshop on constitutional democracy in Yangon, Myanmar (Burma). The workshop will be attended by a wide range of participants, including political parties, academics and civil society actors. Melissa will be speaking on the constitutional position of the military, and constitutional states of emergency.

Organised by the Sydney Law School, the project brings together academics from the Sydney Law School, the UNSW School of Law, the National University of Singapore Law Faculty, the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific and the University of Victoria School of Law (Canada). For more information see here.

Limits of Religious Pluralism in Asia

Anew edited volume by Juliana Finucane and Michael Feener has been released on Proselytizing and the Limits of Religious Pluralism in Contemporary Asia, published by Springer.

The publication is a result of a conference hosted by the Asia Research Institute, NUS. My chapter examines the Indonesian context and the enforcement of the criminal offence of deceiving a child to change religion.

More information on the edited volume is available here.

Indonesian Draft Law on Inter-religious Harmony

Ihave written an article on ‘Shifting Conceptions of State Regulation of Religion: The Indonesian Draft Law on Inter-religious Harmony’ (2013) Global Change, Peace and Security 1-18.

This article seeks to understand how and why states regulate the activities or affairs of religious communities. It does so through a case study of the Indonesian Draft Law on Inter-religious Harmony. I identify three general considerations to the study of the dynamics of state regulation of religious affairs: situating modern state approaches to the regulation of religion in historical context; recognizing the framework within which state and religion is structured; and acknowledging the influence of legal norms other than state law. The Indonesian Draft Law on Inter-religious Harmony addresses key debates between Muslims and Christians and within Islam, and it draws upon existing policies of the Ministry of Religion and also of the fatwa of the Indonesian Ulama Council. The shift in state attempts to regulate religion is therefore related to the dynamic and contested nature of the relationship between the branches of government and religious authorities in democratic Indonesia.

Copies of the Draft Laws can be accessed here:
Draft Law on Inter-religious Harmony 2003

Draft Law on Inter-religious Harmony 2011