Atheist Alexander Aan jailed today in Indonesia

Indonesian civil servant Alexander Aan was jailed today for sharing material on Facebook about the Prophet Mohammad. Please contact the Indonesian embassy demanding his immediate release, and ask the Irish Government to urgently raise the issue with the Indonesian authorities.

In Ireland, Senator Ivana Bacik and Senator Jillian Von Turnhout have raised Aan’s case in the Seanad in February, and called on the Tanaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore to raise the issue with the Indonesian authorities.

Cases like this also show the urgency of Ireland repealing our own new blasphemy law. Islamic states led by Pakistan have praised the new Irish law at the United Nations. And when the Indonesian blasphemy law was constitutionally challenged in 2010, the existence of the new Irish blasphemy law was cited in its support.

Alexander Aan is a 32-year-old Indonesian civil servant who started an atheist group on Facebook on which he published articles about Mohammad and questioned the existence of God. He was beaten up by his work colleagues then arrested for blasphemy. He was today jailed for two and a half years and fined Rp 100m (about $10,000).

Aan 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. The law should protect people, not ideas. And it should protect people from actual harm, but not from being offended.

Atheist Ireland has consistently highlighted this case as part of our overall campaign to repeal blasphemy laws, including in this talk at the European Atheist Convention in Cologne in Germany last month, on the topic ‘Why we must combat blasphemy laws’.

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4 Comments

  1. Thank you for your continued support for Alex and for all of us in Indonesia.

    The prosecution have announced an appeal against the “leniency” of the sentence. They demanded three and a half years. If the ridiculous fine is not paid then three months will be added to the sentence.

    There are two appeal stages – to the Regional Court in Padang and thence to the Supreme Court in Jakarta. I will be urging the defence team to mount a vigorous appeal for the entire sentence to be quashed.

    The continued support of the International community is very important to Alex and all of us who cherish our freedom in Indonesia.

  2. alexander is cunning and damn….
    he insult my race with his say “minang ateis”…
    there r no minang ateis…
    i hope alexander aan jailed for ever…
    .
    .
    i proud that local police jailed him……..
    .
    alexander aan…
    i hate u

  3. alexander aan is a cunning atheist…..
    .
    .
    .
    he insult minangnese…….
    .
    yes i hope he jailed for ever…..
    .

  4. PLEAsE SUPPORT US TO JAILED HIM….
    alexander aan must be jailed for ever…
    because he insult minang….
    i agree with u….
    .
    we have to sue him because he has
    insulted our tribe

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