by Doyin Jaiyesimi
Alexander Aan, an atheist, has been jailed in a prison in West Sumatra for saying that God does not exist. The 31 year old Indonesian posted the comment on the Ateis Minang Facebook page which he created and the comment has garnered over 1.700 likes. In the post, Aan made reference to his Muslim upbringing and how he came to the conclusion that God did not exist. He also declared that he did not believe in angels, devils, heaven or hell.
Although Aan was aware that the Facebook post could cost him his job, he was prepared to stand by what he believed in. Soon after the post on Facebook, Aan was attacked and beaten by an angry mob who forced their way into his office at the Dharmasraya Development Planning Board. Ironically, the man who was initially fearless soon became afraid of further physical assault and went into protective custody.
Speaking about Aan’s arrest and jail term, Dharmasraya Police Chief, Sr. Comr. Chairul Aziz said that “the district branch of the council and other Islamic organizations believed Aan had defiled Islam by using passages from the Koran to denounce the existence of God” and highlighting his atheist views. This, according to Chairul meets the criteria for tainting religion and Aan was charged because he used Facebook to spread beliefs that violate the law. Atheism is a violation of Indonesian law and it is illegal to be an atheist. The state philosophy , pancasila, requires belief in one god. The law only recognises the right to practice one of six religions including Islam, Catholicism and Hinduism. Agnostics and atheists are therefore criminalised for their lack of belief in any god. According to Indonesian criminal law, anyone who tries to stop another person from having faith in god could face up to five years in jail for blasphemy. They face an “additional six years if they use the internet to spread such ‘blasphemy’ to others.”
Aan’s Facebook post has since been put down but he is yet to be released by the police.
We pray God helps him.