Thursday, February 02, 2012

Atheist Indonesian Civil Servant Faces Five Years In Jail For Blasphemy

The constitution of so-called 'moderate' Indonesia calls for freedom of religion, with one caveat, however- it has to be one of the 6 state sanctioned faiths. You're good to go if you practice mainstream Islam (minority sects like the Ahmadiyah are a no-no), Buddhism, Catholicism, Confucianism (go figure),Hinduism and Protestantism. I guess you're out of luck if your a Jew. And although Atheism is not a religion, per se, if your an Atheist in Indonesia you better watch out.

30-year-old Alexander Aan, a West Sumatran civil servant and avowed Atheist, created a Facebook Page called Ateis Minang (Minang Atheist) that now has over 2,000 likes. Aan has been very open about his disbelief in God and other religious 'myths' like the devil, angels and heaven and hell. Unfortunately, Aan lives in a heavily Muslim locale and fellow residents took umbrage with a recent post that said "God doesn't exist".  That post was enough to trigger a posse of angry Muslims who trekked on over to his office and beat the man up. He was subsequently arrested, and could face up to five years for blasphemy. He has support from his on-line Facebook 'fans who are encouraging him to stick to his 'beliefs', but extremists, of course, want his head.

The Islamic Society Forum (FUI), an umbrella group for several hardline groups, said that a five-year jail term for Aan would not suffice.

“He deserves the death penalty, even if he decides to repent. What he has done cannot be tolerated,” said Muhammad al-Khaththath, FUI’s secretary-general.

“It is important to prevent this group from spreading atheism in this country,” he added.
He does have the backing of the International Atheist Alliance which has called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to drop all blasphemy charges.

“This is a law that has been used to promote mob violence and intimidation against those who do not agree with... vigilante groups,” said the letter, copies of which were also sent to the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.
Although he has many supporters in those 2,000 plus fans, many who joined after the news of his arrest made headlines are Muslims, and they too are calling for death to all Atheists.

“These atheists should be beheaded, that’s what they deserve,” wrote a man who identified himself as Putra Tama, a Muslim from neighboring Jambi province.

“If you think your arguments are true, why don’t you just have a face-to-face meeting with us, people who still believe in God? You’re just a group of cowards,” taunted a post by another Muslim.

According to local police chief Chairul Aziz, Aan (who was born a Muslim and became an Atheist in 2008) apparently said that he was willing to revert to Islam, but unfortunately it won't make any difference.

“He expressed his intention to convert to Islam but he has not performed an Islamic declaration of faith. Even if he does so, he still can't escape from justice due to his blasphemous act,” Aziz told AFP.

He could also be in trouble for claiming he was a Muslim when he applied for his job, and could be fired.

So much for moderate Indonesia and its bogus freedom of religion.

Sources: Al Arabiya, Jakarta Post

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