Blasphemy law victim Alex Aan sends a message from prison

by Michael Nugent on July 14, 2012

Alex Aan note from prison

Alexander Aan, who was jailed for blasphemy last month in Indonesia, has sent a message from prison thanking his supporters around the world, saying that he would feel alone without our support and love. He says that he is always concerned with science and humanity, and that he is also concerned about misinformation about him. While his Facebook and email accounts are gone, he also wrote about science and mathematics at iluvboy.blogspot.com.

Alexander AanAlexander is a 31 year old atheist civil servant from Indonesia. In January 2012, he wrote on Facebook that God does not exist, he debated online with Muslims, and he posted pages from a comic-book story of the life of Muhammad. A group of villagers entered his office, checked his Facebook page, assaulted him and reported him to the police. In June 2012, he was jailed for two and a half years.

Alexander was originally charged with blasphemy and persuading others to embrace atheism, but was instead convicted under the Electronic Information and Transactions Law of deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity. This shows the dangers of mixing the ideas of blasphemy and incitement to religious hatred, as prosectors can easily interchange one with the other. His defense team is appealing the sentence, while astonishingly the prosecution is appealing the leniency of the sentence!

Atheist Ireland has already briefed Irish politicians about Alexander’s case, following which Senators Ivana Bacik and Jillian van Turnhout raised the issue in the Irish Seanad. But we now need to redouble our efforts to campaign for Alexander’s release and the repeal of the Indonesian and Irish blasphemy laws. Atheist Alliance International is very active on this issue, and will forward messages of support to Alex if you email info [at] atheistalliance [dot] org with “Message for Alex” in the subject line.

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{ 39 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Aadil July 14, 2012 at 2:54 pm

Taslima nasreen abuses publicly on social ntwrkng sites when anybdy doesnot agree with her over science or atheism,,, hw can a person as intolerant as her expect illiterate mobs not to be furious when their sentiments are hurt with outmost disrespect,,,,,peace cant prevail by favouritism,,create a balance and live your lives,,,nd if you have a point,prove it nd be tolerant to accept criticism…

2 Nick Andrew July 14, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Aadil, this article has nothing to do with Taslima Nasreen. By mentioning her name it sounds like you are holding some kind of grudge.

Furthermore, you don’t seem to get the difference between arguing with words and physical violence. The former is permitted and the latter is never justified. Let me repeat: if somebody says something you don’t like, no matter how hurt your sentiments may be, physical violence is never justified. Being Muslim is no excuse for violence. Being illiterate is no excuse for violence.

Perhaps you should read what you wrote: “be tolerant to accept criticism” and apply it to your own religion and culture.

3 Mike de Fleuriot July 14, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Well from what I have read of the writings of Taslima Nasreen, she has a better education and a better sense of morals than most Muslims that I have met online. And I do not believe that English is her first language, yet her writing does not look like it is the spew of a madras escapee using google translate.

4 acotten July 14, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Anecdotal evidence and ad hominem attack.
There is no reason to appeal to the emotional lowest common denominator.
The fact is, there are both Christians and Muslims that believe that “tolerance” means “never question my beliefs, though I question yours incessantly.” Sadly, in Indonesia, this special consideration towards religion has been written into law and is used to condemn people who have done nothing but state their opinions about religion. A place where atheists are afraid to speak out is a place where religion will keep its control over the populace, with everything that that entails.

5 acotten July 14, 2012 at 3:41 pm

Mike de Fleuriot – Anecdotal evidence and ad hominem attack. There is no reason to appeal to the emotional lowest common denominator. The fact is, there are both Christians and Muslims that believe that “tolerance” means “never question my beliefs, though I question yours incessantly.” Sadly, in Indonesia, this special consideration towards religion has been written into law and is used to condemn people who have done nothing but state their opinions about religion. A place where atheists are afraid to speak out is a place where religion will keep its control over the populace, with everything that that entails.

6 Mike de Fleuriot July 14, 2012 at 4:05 pm

No excuse I know, but it seems this is the only type of language that they understand.

7 robon July 14, 2012 at 4:07 pm

would love to support this cause as I deeply believe in freedom pf speech, however cannot use that hashtag as it would just start a torrent of unhelpful argument on my Twitter and obscure the cause.

8 Michael Nugent July 14, 2012 at 4:09 pm

That’s a fair concern, robon. If you think it will have that effect, please promote the case without using the hashtag.

9 Suhail Ahmed July 14, 2012 at 4:20 pm

Those who defame or insult Islam have not researched it. It is most practical religion. Islam will not suffer because of these athiests. We are 1.5 billion and increasing. Europe is reverting to islam very fast.One day whole world will become muslim. These atheists will die till that time. Allah may forgive them for their ignorance. We muslims must teach our children Quranic knowledge and it should be our first duty to make them read and understand Quran and life of prophet Mohammed(peace be upon him). Let’s not bother about these athiests. Do not highlight them. Do not get provocated by their abusing islam. Just ignore them. They will die. Inshallah. Ameen.

10 Michael Nugent July 14, 2012 at 4:22 pm

@Aadil, if you want to criticize Taslima, please do so elsewhere. Taslima is a courageous, intelligent and sensitive woman who has inspired many others to stand up for justice, and she campaigns tirelessly to promote reason and freedom from persecution. That said, please keep the focus here on the case of Alexander Aan.

11 Suhail Ahmed July 14, 2012 at 4:24 pm

what writings? she writes pornographic items…i can show u if u want..or go to her website..she is [ *** personal abuse deleted by moderator *** ] who , without knowledge aims to insult islam.

12 Suhail Ahmed July 14, 2012 at 4:26 pm

what freedom? freedom of illegal sex? drugs? porno? abusing Islam? [ *** personal abuse deleted by moderator *** ] and all who hates Islam will defend her ..just like what u r doing.Peace.

13 Suhail Ahmed July 14, 2012 at 4:29 pm

try to cross redlight signal in US or any other country.u will get ticket or may get your license cancelled. That’s the rules of any country. Now law and rule of any islamic country is to punish blasphemous persons and indonesia has done it. why r u crying?

14 John July 14, 2012 at 4:38 pm

“Those who defame or insult Islam have not researched it.”

“Just ignore them. They will die.”

This is all the research that you need to do. Religion promotes hate, prejudice, discrimination and divides us.

Anyway.. good luck to Alex. This is a human rights violation and hopefully common sense is seen at the appeal.

15 Suhail Ahmed July 14, 2012 at 4:52 pm

u r trying to read between the lines dear. May Allah give you brains.

16 Ibis3 July 14, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Let me make this easy for you, since you seem to have a little trouble understanding the most basic things:

Running a red light is likely to lead to an automobile accident in which people can be injured or killed.

Saying God does not exist injures no one.

If, as you apparently believe, there is a God, let him defend his own honour. It’s none of your business. If your god doesn’t like what Mr. Aan says, let him use his lightning bolts or make him spontaneously combust or something.

Mr. Aan is not Islamic. He doesn’t believe in your god. Just like you should be free to say Zeus doesn’t exist and if he did he’d be a douchebag adulterer, Mr. Aan or Ms. Nasreen should be free to say Allah doesn’t exist, Mohammed was not a prophet, and Islam is a shameful promotion of tyranny and suppression of the human spirit.

17 Mike de Fleuriot July 14, 2012 at 5:11 pm

Do you know what is considered to be the third most popular philosophy in the world today? Yes, Atheism or non belief in gods, and if you want to combat this, you will have to remove yourself from modern society and breed like rabbits.

We own the most powerful weapon against religion and Islam, and your children have access to it. The Internet, we can reach and teach your children in ways that appeal to them, ways you have not understood and are not allowed to use.

As the saying goes, The Internet is where religions come to die. Sure you might kill a few hundred of us, but we have millions more willing to debate with you and show you and your children why religion and Islam is a poor philosophy.

18 Sean July 14, 2012 at 5:14 pm

Suhail, you are clearly on the wrong website. Please go, and take your religious delusions with you.

19 Aleph July 14, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Interesting as to how the one who apparently doesn’t have Allah-given brains is the one who is capable of properly using grammar, who has honest compassion for fellow human beings who have been unjustly imprisoned on trumped-up charges and who makes actual points instead of just insulting their opponent.

Strange, that.

20 sadunlap July 14, 2012 at 5:54 pm

What is the penalty for apostasy in sharia law? If this religion is so wonderful then why must its adherents throw people in jail for professing non-belief in it and kill people who leave it? Anyone who cares to answer the second question please answer the first question first.

21 Sarah boland July 14, 2012 at 6:23 pm

We should get a campaign going to get European polititions involved in this. When one man is standing up he should be helped by us who are in a better position. It might me worth taking a look back at the campaign in the UK by Jill Morrell when John McCarthy was kidnapped. She managed to keep it in the news by constantly finding new angles. It is surely easier to gain support now with all the modern technolagy.

22 Mike de Fleuriot July 14, 2012 at 6:37 pm

I am thinking that maybe support groups such as this one, could build a list of email addresses of news reporters and editors. So that when something like this happens, enquires of these reporters can be made, asking them what they are going to write about the events.

And then of course, it would be easy to provide any new information to said reporters and editors as we get it.

23 To Hell with islam July 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm

Islam degrades women and treats them as beasts of burden. The world would be better off without it.

24 Aadil July 14, 2012 at 7:27 pm

@michael,,i m nt pleading fr vt terrorists r doin,,, killng people is unjustifiable…bt if you have problems with any philosophy or religion,,isnt there a way to convey it vth some politeness,,y start abusing,y hurt sentiments,, michael, my brother,u kno it very well,ths world is becoming a hell of a place to live in vth each passing second,, shud v not try to stop this hatred,,,i mean if u want people to change for better of ths world,dnt xpect it to happen overnight,, u cant xpect an illiterate person to shed off his religious beliefs vch he has been practising for decades by abusing his apostles,,,i mean to say if u r an atheist or vtever,that’s nt a reason fr me to hate you,,y do v have to go for differences evrytime??

25 Mike de Fleuriot July 14, 2012 at 8:02 pm

@Aadil, let me make myself clear here. I find that putting Alex Aan in jail because he offended some people’s religion to be offensive and wrong. How you and your Muslim brothers feel if I had you put in jail because your believed in Allah? Or even how would you feel if I had you put to death because you believed that Mohammed actually talked to an angel? Why is this different from what they are doing to Alex?

Islam offends me and many millions of atheists like me, I think maybe we should use the same rules that Islam demands for itself and use them against Islam and other religions?

But only atheists will be able to provide a good reason why we should not do this, I doubt a Muslim boy could provide a good reason.

26 Jon Pierson July 14, 2012 at 8:17 pm

Ibis3 – It seems to me that very few, if any, religionists are capable of reconciling “omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient” with “I have to commit violence on my god’s behalf, because, dammit, he never does it for himself!”.

I have to say, though, that Islamists seem to be the worst when it comes to this matter and it doesn’t help that the paedophilic, illiterate, misogynistic, inventor of Islam (you know, the one that went into a cave, with no witnesses, and came out saying he’d heard voices in head?), managed to convince enough of the (understandably) ignorant around him that the voice he heard had told him that those who don’t agree must be murdered.

I am, in no way, conversant with all the religious texts of all the 3,500 to 4,000 religions, faiths, gods and belief systems in the world but the few that I am conversant with have one thing in common. That is, the believers who know, really and truly know, that these texts are the genuine, revealed truth of their god all also insist that these texts have to be “interpreted”. It is obvious, to anyone with an ounce of intelligence, that if these texts were, indeed, the revealed truth of an omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient entity, they would have been written with complete clarity, and a total lack of ambiguity, in every language on earth so that no interpretation would ever be required. In fact, if there were such a thing as a god, which, of course, there isn’t, such powers as are ascribed to these supernatural beings would, obviously, enable them to simultaneously reveal their teachings to each and every being on the planet in terms simple enough for all to instantly understand.

The problem with that plan, of course, is that there would be no further need for men, and they are overwhelmingly men, to set up religions and dictate their own “interpretation” of some man-written text, claimed to be the revealed truth of some random god, to anyone gullible enough to believe them… and to take their money.

27 Aadil July 14, 2012 at 8:24 pm

@mike,,let the govt. abolish blasphemy law,dont u think minorites vl be killed without any reason,, do u want people to be killed,i m sure no,, vt happened to salman taseer in pakistan,,he was brutally murdered,, if atheism is the only way foreward for humanity,,y does it need to confront vth other religions,,it vl prevail if it is a true concept,,,you need not shed blood of people to prove your worth,, let atheists follow atheism and let muslims follow islam,,knowledge is spreading nd people vl judge vt is rite nd vt is rong,,,and if they cant judge it,i dont think following atheism or islam is goin to make any difference for them…i am not pleading for islam here,,i just want thìs world to become a better place..

28 Jon Pierson July 14, 2012 at 9:38 pm

I was pleased to spend a whole day with Taslima, in Cologne, following the recent Atheist Conference there. We walked around the city, visited the Gestapo Headquarters, the City Museum and had lunch together.

She is a qualified medical doctor who practiced in her country of birth, Bangladesh, for eight years before being forced to leave.) You might want to read her own biography in her own words http://taslimanasrin.com/index2.html)

Bengali is her first language but I can say that her English is impeccable. Considering what has happened to her, she retains an incredible dignity and lack of hatred towards those who treated her with such cruelty, based entirely their warped view of how best to manifest their belief in an imaginary entity.

Having spent a day with her, I believe that her morals are, indeed, better – for want of a better word – not only than most, if not all, fundamentalist religionists, but that she could also teach a great many politicians about what really matters in our world. Who knows, maybe she could even inspire the ultra-greedy, short-termist, capitalist leeches that prey on the weakest and poorest in the world to change their ways.

29 Michael Nugent July 14, 2012 at 9:42 pm

@Aadil, atheism and religion are philosophical positions that everybody is entitled to hold or reject or debate. The way forward for humanity, as you put it, is secularism – which means the State remains neutral on these ideas, and focuses on addressing the problems of the world in which we live, and protecting equally the fundamental rights of all citizens. That would help the world to be a better place.

30 Jon Pierson July 14, 2012 at 10:03 pm

Apart from the obscenity of rape and paedophillia, with which “the prophet” Mohammed was, of course, personally acquainted, I have difficulty in understanding the term “illegal sex”. Perhaps you could elucidate.

As to freedom? The freedom of thought, the freedom of opinion, the freedom of expression. The freedom to talk to others, of either sex and whether related or not, the freedom to dress as one wishes – and certainly not in a shapeless tent with an eye-slit in it. The freedom of expression, the freedom of speech, the freedom of equality – irrespective of race, sex or beliefs. The freedom to drive, the freedom to work, the freedom to be educated. The freedom… to have a beautiful mind and the freedom to use it.

Freedom? All those things that, based solely on some man-made writings, religionists choose to despise and eliminate.

31 Jon Pierson July 14, 2012 at 10:27 pm

Oh, I forgot to mention, the “Religion of Peace”, at the last count, is directly responsible for issuing no less than five of its “fatwas” on Taslima Nasrin.

Those would be religious rulings, based solely upon some random interpretation of some man-made writings – that some people believe came from a non-existent entity – that this, as Michael Nugent puts it, “intelligent and sensitive woman” should be murdered. Whatever else the word “peace” may mean, over here in ‘normal world’, it most certainly does not include pre-meditated murder.

32 Michael Nugent July 14, 2012 at 10:45 pm

That’s a very good idea. Mike. I’m sure some advocacy groups in different countries have relevant contact lists, and compiling them together in one location would help to spark media interest most effectively when it is needed quickly.

33 Jon Pierson July 15, 2012 at 12:10 am

Irrespective of the bizarre views of some religion and hatred-fueled Islamists, the purpose of this post is to highlight the outrageous imprisonment of Alexander Aan for having his own brain and daring to use it to have, and publish, his own thoughts. Thoughts that caused no physical harm to any individual whatsoever. Thoughts that, in a free country, could have been peacefully debated across a table or, as Alexander was prepared to do, by using modern social media.

And let’s not forget that Alexander has also been fined 100 million rupiah which, at US$10,600, is probably the best part of a year’s salary for Alexander who has, I would imagine, now lost his government job.

Islam rejects freedom of though, freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. How Islam manages to get otherwise intelligent individuals to believe and, worse, governments to punish their citizens, for having thoughts, and voicing them, that Islamists don’t happen to agree with is beyond my –what is it? – heretical western understanding.

34 Dave Smith July 15, 2012 at 12:12 am

While I find much about my country (the US) to criticize, our First Amendment wouldn’t allow any such laws here.

You are pretty much free to criticize any of my beliefs, including my religion if I have one, as much as you like. It won’t hurt me. And in exchange, I’m equally free to say whatever I want about yours. In the end we both emerge from the verbal battle unscathed and not in jail, still able to speak freely, and life goes on. Indeed, religion flourishes here far more than in most of Europe.

(As an atheist, I don’t particularly see that as a good thing, but perhaps it’s the price we’ve paid for our version of freedom of speech. The whole idea of a “blasphemy” law seems archaic, and frankly very childish. Why would a god be so insecure?)

To say that peoples’ “religious sentiments” must not be offended is just silly. Grown people, even religious ones, can stand a little discomfort or offense now and then, even to their belief systems. As an atheist, my views are certainly subject to “offensive” remarks regularly. And so what? It’s part of living in a free society.

Too bad that Mr Aan apparently doesn’t live in a free society.

35 Mike de Fleuriot July 15, 2012 at 10:17 am

The thing that Islam does not recognise is the Free Speech is the weapon that will kill it, all Muslims know is that it makes them uncomfortable. If they ever tried to work out why Free Speech will be the death of their religion, they would then start to question their religion. In fact many ex-Muslims have already done that and given up this rather silly belief in gods.

Alex Aan is one of these people who are showing to Muslims that you can have a life without submission, and that makes them uncomfortable. We need to support him and other like him to further this goal. We need to offer these ideas to the Muslim youth, especially the teenagers, all that is needed is to show them how to think critically and then get them to use the skill against their religion.

If their religion stands up to critical examination, then it should be worth it. But as many of you realise no religion can do that and Islam is also weak to such examination.

36 MDAli July 20, 2012 at 9:40 am

“what freedom? freedom of illegal sex? drugs? porno? abusing Islam?”
It’s quite amusing to see the connection Muslims immediately make when the word “freedom” is mentioned. Their minds immediately jump to porn, drugs, criticising their religion, sex on the streets. It’s like watching a greedy person linking money with EVERYTHING. I couldn’t care less what people do as long as it doesn’t harm others. If all you want to do is impose your ways on others, then why shouldn’t we? Oh, you don’t like it when people force you to live in such and such way? No one is forcing you to consume drugs or have sex all over the place, I don’t engage in such activities- no one is forcing me either way 😛

[ *** personal abuse deleted by moderator *** ] and all who hates Islam will defend her ..just like what u r doing.Peace.

37 Mike 'Dj!NN?' Sheriff August 1, 2012 at 12:50 am

I really wonder if these “Muslim” commentators are really religious or just trolls… It really annoys me that you rarely see a sensible one posting on these threads. I do like to engage in debate with apologists… Maybe the smart ones realise that an intellectual debate with skeptics is futile? Maybe this is the reason for only the foolish and semi-literate responding?

38 Brenda August 21, 2012 at 5:39 pm

How can religious fanatics be civil and non-violent, if all they’re taught it violence? If the bible or government say so it must be true, huh? Instead of just listening to the person next to you or what your family believes, just think for yourself, no one owns you, there’s no god anywhere. If he can’t defend himself it’s because he is not there in the first place. The voice in your head, “god”, is only your conscience! Why live with limitations on life, sex, drugs, speech, or anything that you’ve ever wanted to do? (Obviously without killing anyone, or accusing/imprisoning people because of your judgement or belief) God does not exist! (Maybe read some Zecharia Sitchin 😉

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