Friday, May 4, 2012

Indonesian atheist faces long jail sentence for posting "God doesn't exist" on Facebook

The Guardian has a disturbing report on the plight of Alexander Aan, an Indonesian civil servant who is currently in custody and facing an 11-year prison sentence for expressing his atheism on Facebook.
In Indonesia, the law guarantees citizens freedom of religion, but only as long as they adhere to Islam, Catholicism, Protestantism, Buddhism, Confucianism or Hinduism. By expressing his atheism Aan - who posted the phrase "God doesn't exist" on a Facebook page – is held to have breached Indonesia's official state philosophy (known as the Pancasila), which requires citizens to have "Belief in the one and only God."
Aan is the first atheist to be tried for breaching this aspect of the Pancasila and, as the Guardian reports, his case has led to calls for his execution by hardline Islamists, and he was badly beaten while in custody by a mob who learned of the charges he is facing.
According to Indonesian human rights activists, Aan's case is part of a growing trend towards religious intolerance, with members of non-Muslim religious minorities also facing attack from the country's increasingly influential religious conservatives, despite the legal protection ostensibly offered to the followers of some non-Islamic faiths.

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