After More Than a Year in Prison on Blasphemy Charges, Alexander Aan is Released from Prison

It was more than 18 months ago when Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan was sentenced to prison for 2.5 years for the “crime” of posting “blasphemous” statements on Facebook, criticizing Islam and asking for proof of God’s existence on a group page for the Minang Atheists.

Today, however, the Jakarta Post reports some good news: Aan has been released!

Alexander Aan, who was sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison on June 15, 2012 under the Blasphemy Law for publicly declaring himself an atheist on Facebook, was released from prison on Jan. 27.

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), an NGO focusing on religious freedom, said in a press statement that it had visited Aan in prison twice while investigating violations of freedom of religion or belief and threats to religious harmony in Indonesia. The CSW had advocated for Aan’s release.

Benedict Rogers of the CSW said Aan’s release was a huge relief and he urged the government to seriously consider reviewing the Blasphemy Law and other pieces of legislation that violated freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief.

“We hope that Indonesia will protect, promote and expand the principles of religious pluralism set out in Pancasila so that they apply equally to all Indonesians, and ensure that no one is unjustly imprisoned for their beliefs in the future.”

CSW isn’t the only group that advocated for his release, but kudos to them for whatever role they played in making this happen.

This story is still developing. More to come…

***Update***: The Center for Inquiry’s Michael De Dora cautions us all:

You see, Aan is unfortunately not yet completely free. Aan was released “on license,” which means he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities. Furthermore, Aan is vulnerable to vigilante retribution, which means he will be forced to keep a low profile for some time. As such, I urge everyone to not draw attention to Aan or his physical whereabouts.

(Thanks to Sean McGuire for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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