The sorry story of Alexander Aan continues. Alexander was charged for blasphemy, promoting atheism and incitement after he posted on his Facebook page that he was an atheist as well as a few cartoons about the Prophet Muhammad. He was subsequently hunted down by an angry mob and beaten. When he went to the police for help, he was charged and sentenced to two and a half years in prison as well as a 100 million rupiah (US $10,600) fine.
There have been numerous protests staged to try and get the American government to apply pressure on Indonesia to free Alexander. Amnesty International has called for the immediate release of Alexander:
“Amnesty International believes the charges and sentence are in contravention of Indonesia’s obligation under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ICCPR], particularly Article 18, which protects an individual’s right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion and Article 19, which guarantees the right to freedom of opinion and expression.”
Recently, Aan reached out from his jail cell to thank his supporters. The letter is below, but I hope you keep in mind that English isn’t his first language:
I miss all my brother and sister. I can't move my mind and always fight infiltration.
I need to clarify that; I always concern with humanity and science. Forever.
Thank for support and love. Without this I feel alone.
So I hope my code can be documented because I afraid misinformation of who I'm.
My Facebook and email was goon (gone?), but I still have ID. I write about science (my [idea and scheme] of science, mathematic too) at: iluvboy.blogspot.com (with other email).
Happiness for all,
What’s happening to this man should (I hope) bother every person – whether religious or not – who values freedom of religion and free thought. The man was brutally beaten by a mob of zealots and then charged while his attackers were not prosecuted.
Here’s a bit more about his case:
Last month, Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan was sentenced to two-and-a-half years after being found guilty of blasphemy. His crime: posting irreverent cartoons of the prophet Mohammed, and posting claims like “God doesn’t exist,” to a Facebook page sympathetic to atheists, agnostics and other freethinkers.
Aan was formally charged with religious blasphemy, atheism propagation and dissemination of religious hostility, and formally found guilty of spreading religious hostility. The presiding judge ruled that “What he (Aan) did has caused anxiety to the community and tarnished Islam.”
Before his arrest last January, Aan was beaten by an angry mob of religious zealots when news of his controversial Facebook activities became public. Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.
It would be easy to ignore the plight of Alexander because he’s so far away. However, I think that would be a big mistake. His case could be a first step towards freedom of religion everywhere. This man doesn’t deserve to be in jail for not believing in God. Forced religion is hopefully abhorrent to people of good conscience.
I hope you’ll take the time to sign this petition. They are looking to get 250 thousand signatures before sending it to the White House.
The petition reads:
Earlier this year, Indonesian civil servant Alexander Aan posted on Facebook that he doubted the existence of God. He was then attacked and beaten by an angry mob, and arrested for blasphemy.
On June 14, Aan was convicted of “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility,” sentenced to 30 months in prison, and saddled with a large fine. Now many Indonesians are calling for his death.
By punishing Aan, Indonesia is violating its obligations to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which guarantees every person the rights to freedom of belief and expression. We petition the Obama administration to call upon the Indonesian government to immediately release Alexander Aan and improve its protections for religious dissidents and nonbelievers.
Again, I hope you will take the time to sign the petition. I also hope you’ll spread the word.