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.