Alex Aan is out of prison

The Jakarta Post reports:

Alexander Aan, who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on June 15, 2012 under the Blasphemy Law for publicly declaring himself an atheist on Facebook, was released from prison on Jan. 27.

Aan, a 30-year-old former civil servant, posted statements and pictures on the social networking site stating that he was a member of the Minang atheist Facebook group, which some considered insulting to Islam and Prophet Muhammad. 

On Jan. 20, 2012, Aan was charged under Article 28(2) of the Electronic Information and Transaction Law for disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hostility and Criminal Code articles 156a(a) and 156a(b) for blasphemy and for encouraging others to embrace atheism.

Besides being sentenced to prison, Aan was also fined Rp 100 million rupiah (US$8,190).

What’s there to say? It’s ridiculous. There shouldn’t be laws against “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hostility” – at least not when mere atheism is interpreted as incitement to religious hostility – not when not being something is interpreted as incitement to hostility toward people who are the something that you are not.* Theism shouldn’t be helped to protect its monopoly by laws that criminalize the refusal to be religious.* Theism’s groundless beliefs shouldn’t be propped up by laws that forbid people to say those beliefs are groundless.*

There should be no articles in any criminal code that forbid encouraging others to embrace atheism.*

*Cf the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.



  1. rnilsson says

    Is Alex Aan in need of material support at this time?
    Is he alive and well?
    (Sorry, haven’t been updating enough, it seems.)
    I might be willing (though not eagerly able) to chip in some symbolic amount towards his fines, if nothing else.

  2. Pierce R. Butler says

    According to the linked article, we need to thank some Christians for Aan’s freedom:

    Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an NGO focusing on religious freedom, said in a press statement that it had visited Aan in prison twice while investigating violations of freedom of religion or belief and threats to religious harmony in Indonesia. The CSW had advocated for Aan’s release.

    Benedict Rogers of the CSW said Aan’s release was a huge relief and he urged the government to seriously consider reviewing the Blasphemy Law and other pieces of legislation that violated freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.

    I hadn’t expected him to get out alive.

  3. miraxpath says

    Christians are helping Alex Aan because Christians in Malaysia and Indonesia are increasingly aware that they are in the cross sights of Islam. Islam as defined by the majority of muslims who practise it, the laws which prop up its status as state religion affirming its supremacism over all other faiths and the political and civic figures who step out as the defenders of the religion of ”peace”. In Malaysia there is constant brainwashing and incitement of muslims at the Friday sermons (the official one delivered by a government department to all mosques in the country) and the results are frightening. Polls of ordinary malaysian muslims’ views on recent issues point to the overwhelming majority – 80% or more -taking a very hardline stance.

    You want a taste of how Islam is practised in this part of the world, you read this : KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — Christians and Jews are responsible for turning Muslims against each other and tricking them into losing their rights, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) said in its Friday sermon today.

    Singling out Christians and Jews as the “enemies of Islam”, Jakim claimed that Muslims in Malaysia will always be under siege as long as this threat is not addressed..

    According to the sermon, Muslims here were being tricked into destroying the “walls” that have long protected their “sovereignty”.

    “Muslims will definitely face attacks and our enemies will want to destroy Islam in whatever way possible,” it said.

    The sermon claimed that some Muslims were working together with the Christians and the Jews, and that this would serve to expedite the downfall of Islam in Malaysia.

    “This extreme action only destroys the faith of Muslims in an effort to undermine the sovereignty of the Muslim community,” it said.

    The sermon added that Muslims in the country should cast aside petty differences and unite as it was their only protection against a bigger common threat.

    “Take a deep breath and look at what is going on. Isn’t Islam always being challenged? Aren’t the dignity of Muslims always being insulted? Aren’t our Muslim leaders being belittled by the enemies of Islam?

    “Therefore what is our cause and what role have we played? Or are we just spectators?” Jakim added.

    Today’s Friday sermon echoes recent conspiracy claims made by Muslim groups such as Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma).

    Isma recently alleged that Muslims in Malaysia face real conspiracies coming from Christians and “chauvinists”.

    The group had slammed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for accusing political rivals Umno of falsely perpetuating the idea that Islam was under siege, saying the opposition leader is turning a blind eyes towards continued allegations of attempts to subvert Islam’s position in Malaysia.

    “Muslims are facing threats from evangelist Christians and chauvinists who are becoming more aggressive and rude by insulting the faith, practices and tradition of Muslims,” Isma president Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman had said.

    “Nobody can deny that the agenda of liberalism, religious pluralism, total equality and Christianisation were brought to this country through various approaches through proxies and certain networks linked to international Jews, Freemasons and evangelist Christians.”

    Isma also accused Anwar of using the ongoing tussle over “Allah” between Christians and Muslims to depict himself as a “true statesman”, and disregarding the concerns of the latter religious community by supporting opposing claims to the Arabic word for God.

    Anwar has called for a bipartisan dialogue today between the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalitions to solve the “Allah” dispute he argued is derailing Malaysia from its economic goals.

    Following that, Prime Minister Datuk Najib Razak said on Monday that he will bring Anwar’s idea of a “national consensus” to the Cabinet.

    Malaysia is currently grappling with an intractable religious conflict between Muslims and Christians over “Allah”, the Arabic word for God, which culminated in two Molotov cocktails being thrown at a church in Penang on Monday, just as how houses of worship were attacked in 2010 over the same issue.

  4. miraxpath says

    Btw, the MalayMail is the liberal newspaper. You want pure poison, you ought to read the Utusan Melayu. The jewbaiting in that paper is like something out of Nazi Germany.


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