Atheists rally for persecuted unbeliever in Indonesia


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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.

Written By: Kimberly Winston
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  1. The real hatred inciter is the big bully meme Muhammad et al. Bully consciousness. Bully by treatment of others. Bully by how it refuses to vacate its subjugation of all mindsets save its own.

  2. I understand this petition is only for Americans, looking at the petition-website it says,

    What is the purpose of We the People?
    We the People is a new, easy way for Americans to make their voice heard in our government. It is a platform on the White House website where individuals can create and sign petitions that call for action by the federal government on a range of issues facing our nation. If a petition gathers enough signatures, it will be reviewed by White House staff and receive an official response. We the People helps the White House understand the views of the American people and have a focused and civil conversation with them.

    Is there an international equivalent?

  3. What can Obama possibly do? I am surprised the man wasn’t killed. There is so much horrific political torture going on in the world that many refugees are actually political torture survivors. And I’m not talking about chopping off someone’s fingers( which is obviously bad enough). I mean unspeakable psychological, sexual, physical, generational torture where evil is too inept a word to describe it.  I could tell you one that would haunt you forever as a parent. I’ve studied the mental and physical consequences of torture and PTSD. The American Psychological Associations endorsement of political torture by the CIA is disgusting; especially in light of the American Psychiatric Associations refusal to engage due to “first do no harm”. I believe the former has done some back pedaling as of late.

  4. I live in London UK and still signed up and signed the petition. You don’t need to be American. It works in the UK too.

  5. The man probably is being tortured, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they make an example of him. He put his entire family at risk as well. It is also profoundly traumatizing to families of torture victims, which leaks on to further generations and communities which reinforces their silence and submission to such governments.

  6. This illustrates why Sam Harris book “Lying” is extraordinarily subjective to a fault. To expect truth to be respected, in oh so many “lower society ladder” situations is an invitation to get yourself branded. Few teach how to deploy this memeplex, for honesty amidst dishonesty, due it seeming an instruction in hypocrisy and dissonant guilt bias. To lie or not to lie? That’s the truth folks! 

  7. I just don’t think what the man did was effective, and may have actually hurt his cause, his family, his community, etc… I’m not saying he should be jailed or tortured, clearly. But alot of people around the world are tortured, killed, imprisoned, etc… just to keep their people controlled. I don’t think what he did was very smart and I think it was naive. He probably did more harm than good.

  8. We have a nail near a head on this one! Morality suggests it’s the height of humanity to be truthful. Being truthful got him in a very bad situation. The culprit? Religion! Claiming unquestionable respect and big enough to bully this fact – has him over a barrel. Outsiders therefore conclude,” He is not smart! ” So religion wins by default. In effect it has outsiders over its barrel also. The bully must be obeyed! 

    “Smart .” would include letting the bully go on abusing humans ad infinitum, starting of course, as always , with children!

    It gets power over their brains, then moves onto the sexual organs – arranging when and to whom they be ascribed. Reminds me of vice!

  9. let me tell you a story from one survivor: A man was forced ( after much beating and physical torture at gunpoint) to choose between raping his little boy and girl himself, or his torturers would do it for him. The man looked at his children in desperation as to some sign as to what he should do. The man finally concluded that he just couldn’t violate his own children. So then his captors raped his children for him, and then made the man do it after. Alot of torture is designed to make the victim prefer to die, but not let them die. They are returned utterly broken physically and psychologically to further torture and silence their families and communities. Is drawing a cartoon on facebook worth it? Will that stop these fanatics? No. What it will do is further suppress any other dissent.

  10. These people are criminals and it is about time the modern world acknowledged this and reacted accordingly in word and deed.

  11. This seems a lose lose situation to an evil minded all powerful bully.
    What have you ever seen that can overturn such a monstrous mindset? Is it a case of give them what they want and say nothing or else they will take even more?

  12. No. I’m saying that under regimes like this, dissent needs to be smarter than that. Personally, I think the American Muslim communities need to be stepping up to the bat in cases like this, and other cases. I think it is democratically minded Muslims who are in the best position to do something about Islamic extremism. They might be the only ones in the position to do something about it.

  13. What the heck? Why is there anyone saying that he could’ve done this smarter as if he should be the one to blame for this whole mess? There is no indication that he is doing this as part of his godless scheme to turn people away from god or whatever. Those are all red herrings.

    The facts here are clear. A man claimed himself an Atheist and he is jailed. Whether this is the law of the land or not, it’s despicable to persecute someone based on their belief. It is thought policing. The only argument against his freedom is the argument that a sovereign nation could commit any crime it wishes within its own border.

  14. This is why such memeplexes have evolved – so that only themselves seem capable of effecting their own situation. Totalitarian ipso facto! The last dinosaurs on Earth reside amongst us – locked away in human minds. We need some memeplex artillery to guard the rational mind against this savage ancestor!

  15. I have signed the petition. Quite easy really. Least that one can do I would say.

    However much some people might think that USA dominance is weakening I don’t think that it is going to happen anytime soon. (That America ceases to be able to exert the most influence as a nation).

    So our best bet is to get  America to be an atheist nation as soon as possible.

    What is it about the Swedes that causes that country to be considered as atheist overall?

  16. He probably did more harm than good.

    No offense intended to you personally, but this is a despicable comment that makes me want to throw up.

    It’s typical, outrageous “blame the victim” type ignorance, masquerading as rational thought.

  17. Such as, for instance:

    What is a “smarter” tactic?  What should this young man have done instead?  And how in Jebus’ name do you know it is smarter?  How can you possibly predict the response to all atheist actions in a country like Indonesia?

  18. I have advanced an argument.  I think you underestimate these people calling for his death, and I also think you are extremely naive and probably never have been in any real physical and psychological danger as such in your life.. Again, no. I do not think it is worth his life, and/or perhaps his family’s lives to voice his dissent by drawing cartoons on facebook when you live in Indonesia. I never said that I thought it was right that he be imprisoned or beaten at all. In fact, I had said so. By your reaction one would think you think this is the only human rights violation in the world. It could be far worse for him, as it is for thousands ( even millions) of others living under authoritarian regimes. Are you unfamiliar with such things as human trafficking?? If your son had done the same, would you be proud of him and be glad that he had done it after he’s dead? Do you not understand how crazy and blood thirsty these people are??

  19. Some things are worth dying for, like the freedom to express the truth. When a man expresses the truth in spite of the threat of violence from the thugs that surround him, he is a hero to be applauded. Last thing he needs is someone from across the globe telling him he has been foolish to risk his life for this, and should have spent his life safely in subjection instead.  That’s why your comment made ‘All About Meme’ wanted to throw up, and its what is making me queasy right now too.

  20. annececilia:

    I understand your fears, believe me.  And you have every right to remove yourself from the fray. (I’ve had a loaded gun held to my head, through a pillow intended to muffle the sound of its report if necessary, by a convicted thief.  And no, it’s not pleasant.  It was the most frightened I’ve ever been in my life, in fact.)  Personal anecdotes are irrelevant, however.

    Your personal fear isn’t a rational reason for others to give up fighting a monstrous institution whose influence results in people being jailed for merely expressing their opinion on Facebook.

    It’s okay to be afraid.  It’s not okay to blame the victims for your discomfort.  It’s simply wrong.

  21. You cherry pick things I’d said and pull them way out of context and falsely infer a meaning to fit with your apparent desire to attack anyone who thinks differently than you. You haven’t put forth any counter arguments, only ad hominem attacks.  But, I don’t think you are capable of any counter arguments because the content and context of what I have discussed is lost with you. I’m not “blaming the victim” here, I’m merely pointing out potential and/or actual consequences. You think consequences be damned, but I don’t. Perhaps it would have been better for the facebook group page to continue to grow and spread to become more of an army of dissenters than to martyr one young man? I think so. You don’t. Fine. 

  22. Keep in mind Indonesia is a supposedly secular and democratic country of mostly so-called moderate Muslims. If a mildly provocative thing like this can land a man into jail imagine how less tolerant the more radical elements will be around the world. Be afraid.

  23. Indonesia is becoming a failed state. The country is generally moderate, but lately the hardline Islamist parties are taking too much liberties and nobody, including the ineffective president, have the guts to do anything to stop them.

  24. In the interests of the courteous, rational discussion that is the aim of this site (even if it doesn’t always quite achieve it in practice), may we ask users to avoid getting into personal spats with other users, or making personal derogatory comments about them; and also to apply the Principle of Charity and at least try to understand the point they are making before leaping in to object? 

    Thank you.
    The Mods

  25. I thought it was his personal FB Page he was posting on, now that know he started a group with 1200 members, I have way more respect for him, on top of large helpings of compassion and disgust for his predicament.

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