Support Indonesian Man Jailed for Atheism

I received an e-mail from CFI which reads:

In January, Alexander Aan, a 30-year-old in West Sumatra, Indonesia, posted messages to Facebook expressing his lack of belief in God, as well as some satirical cartoons about the prophet Muhammad, and as a result was attacked by an angry mob and then arrested by police under the charge of blasphemy.

The Center for Inquiry needs you to help come to Alexander’s aid. 

Alexander did nothing more than exercise the most basic of human rights, his freedom to express his beliefs, and now he is in great jeopardy — not only has he lost his freedom, but many are calling for his death.

CFI wants to make the voices of those who support Alexander loud and clear to the Indonesian government. The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is organizing a letter-writing campaign on Alexander’s behalf, and we at CFI urge you to take part.

Visit this page to have your say and show your support for Alexander and basic human freedoms. We encourage you to use the text below as your template for you to copy and paste into the web form, but please feel free to add your own thoughts as you see fit. (AHRC has provided its own sample text on its web page, but you can simply remove it and replace it with ours or your own.) Make sure you keep all bracketed text as it is, such as “[salutation],” as it will be automatically filled in once the letter is sent.

Let’s show Alexander and the whole world that we will not be silent when governments suppress, persecute, and jail those who speak their mind.


Dear [salutation],
Name of victim: Alexander Aan
Names of alleged perpetrators: Police officers of Pulau Punjung Sub-District Police Station, prosecutors of Sijunjung District Prosecutors Office, potentially the panel of judges at the Muaro Sijunjung District Court who examines Alex’s case.
Date of incident: 18 January 2012 – present (ongoing)
Place of incident: Dharmasraya, Padang, West Sumatra

I am writing to voice my concern regarding the case of Alexander Aan, an atheist civil servant in Dharmasraya, Padang, West Sumatra. Alexander has been arrested and charged with blasphemy and promoting atheism for posting a status on Facebook questioning the existence of God. He is also alleged to have disseminated religious hatred on the Internet by posting a note and comic on Facebook entitled ‘The Prophet Muhammad was attracted to his own daughter-in-law’ and ‘The Prophet Muhammad had been sleeping with his wife’s maid.’

Alexander’s postings were an exercise of free expression of his religious beliefs, and Indonesia is a state party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which guarantees freedom of religion. His posts did not incite, condone, or glorify violence or persecution of anyone, Muslim or otherwise. Though some have found his posts insulting, there is no human right to freedom from feeling offended. Alexander has committed no crime and should be released.

I was alerted to Alexander’s situation by the Center for Inquiry (CFI), a nonprofit organization based in the U.S. that stands for science, reason, and secular values such as the separation of religion from government and the basic freedoms of thought, conscience, and speech. CFI has affiliate organizations and branches all over the world, and holds special consultive status at the United Nations under the UN Economic and Social Council. I stand with CFI in its support of Alexander Aan and of all those who are persecuted for their beliefs — or lack of beliefs — wherever on this planet they reside.

I look forward to your swift action on this matter.


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About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.