Secularists rally to free atheist in Indonesia
Michael De Dora
Posted on July 20, 2012
Look, it’s me on the Washington Post website:
The atheist community has embraced the cause of an Indonesian man, Alexander Aan, who was beaten and jailed after denying God’s existence on Facebook and posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
The Center for Inquiry, a Washington-based humanist organization, launched a petition Tuesday (July 17) on behalf of Alexander Aan, a 30-year-old Indonesian civil servant currently serving a 30-month jail sentence for “deliberately spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity,” according to the judge who sentenced him.
The petition asks the Obama administration to pressure the Indonesian government for Aan’s release and for better protection of religious freedom in that country, the most populous Muslim nation in the world.
“We are hoping that this petition will promote Aan’s cause and put it in the public consciousness so we can build a better coalition to get him out of jail,” said Michael De Dora, CFI’s director of public policy. “It should matter to all human beings any time another human being is being denied basic human rights.”
Aan was arrested in January after posting “God doesn’t exist” and cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad to the page of a Facebook group he started dedicated to atheism. The group had 1,200 members.
A crowd came to his house and beat him, according to news reports. Aan was charged with blasphemy and persuading others to embrace atheism, both crimes in Indonesia. In June, he was sentenced to jail and a fine of 100 million rupiah (about $10,600).
You can sign that petition here.