“There are many Indonesian nonbelievers who aren’t as lucky as me. Living in Indonesia, they have to lead a double life and are forced to pretend they are religious in order to avoid trouble, discrimination and all forms of negative repercussions, including the violent ones.” Karl Karnadi (29)
Media Release 25 January 2012
Indonesian authorities must support freedom of speech and conscience
Atheist Alliance International launches appeal to support Alexander Aan
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) demands that the Indonesian government support freedom of speech and freedom of conscience by immediately releasing Alexander Aan from custody and dropping all charges against him, pursuing the perpetrators of the physical attack against Aan and repealing the country’s oppressive anti-blasphemy legislation.
“Alexander simply expressed his view that there is no god. In contrast, his attackers assaulted a real person and must be brought to justice,” said AAI President Tanya Smith.
“Indonesia’s anti-blasphemy laws are an appalling relic from the country’s period of dictatorship. They should be repealed as an essential step towards the freedom of Indonesia’s people and the country’s participation in the modern world,” Smith said.
Karl Karnadi, an Indonesian atheist associated with AAI said „Any religious person would say that gods of other religions do not exist. Why should Alex be arrested for effectively saying the same? Just because he is an atheist doesn’t mean that he should be jailed. Religious and non-religious people are going to disagree and that may offend some, but that’s a natural outcome from people having different views. Such an absurd law should not exist in Indonesia or in any other place.“
Police in Dharmasraya, western Sumatra, on Friday (20 January) said that Aan had been charged with blasphemy for postings he made on a 1,200-member Facebook group.
Aan had initially been taken into ‘protective custody’ after he was beaten by a mob of religious zealots. There have been no indications that his assailants will face prosecution. Aan, a civil servant, has also been threatened with the loss of his job.
Muslim-majority Indonesia officially recognizes only six faith traditions: Islam, protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Citizens are forced to choose from one of these traditions when applying for identification cards.
Atheist Alliance International has launched an appeal for donations to help pay for Aan’s legal costs and to support the Aan family’s living expenses while he is in jail, at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).