Can you help out Alexander Aan?

I’m on my way back from rationality camp and had a lovely time.  I’ll have a few more updates on the experience when I return, but I’ll space them out a bit with more of my usual posts.  While I’m in transit, there’s a freedom and religion issue some of the readers here may want to take action on.

In Indonesia, Alexander Aan is in jail because, according to CFI:

Earlier this year, after stating on Facebook his doubt about the existence of God and posting some satirical cartoons about the prophet Muhammed, Alexander was attacked by a mob, arrested for promoting atheism, and convicted of “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility.” He was then sentenced to two and a half years in prison and saddled with an exorbitant fine.

There’s a petition you can sign.


— — —


I don’t plan to post calls to action that often, since they’re pretty easy to find if you’re plugged into the religion blogosphere, but if I get pinged, I might post an omnibus update once or twice a month.  No need to complain in the comments that there are other free speech issues that need attention.  Just post a pitch and a link to the person or group that needs help in the comments; this is an open thread.

And, as always when you take action, use any ‘ask’ as a reminder to donate through Givewell, where there’s empirical evidence that your money is doing good.  I just did.

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  • Indonesia has a terrible record of intolerance. Back in 2000/2001, I met a young Indonesian woman in Rome in St. Peter’s Square. Tiara was Indonesian but with a twist: she was of Chinese descent (overseas Chinese as Indonesians call it) and Catholic. She left Indonesia for Amsterdam in the late nineties after a close friend (also Chinese & Catholic) was murdered by a mob of rioting Indonesians. Shortly after September 11, 2001, I visited her in Amsterdam. We went to the Anne Frank house (that I first visited in 1976). We both meditated on the life of Anne Frank, a beautiful young woman, killed because of her religion.

    • This feels like picking a nit, but Anne Frank was killed because of her ethnicity, not her religion. And she wasn’t even really killed because of that. She was killed because she was part of a pariah group in a socially intolerant society. Ethnicity was just an excuse, just like religion in this case is an excuse to punish social non-conformity.

      • Well yes, I was going to use the phrase “ethnicity” instead of religion. However, I stopped short since ultimately she was targeted because she was from a Jewish family & practiced the Jewish faith. I do realize that folks such as Edith Stein (a Catholic nun, now a Saint) was targeted just the same based on her Jewish ancestry (and not her religion). What I find both ironic & disturbing about the case of Alexander Aan is this: how can one find faith if one does not first lose it? Personally, I consider atheism a road, a path, towards faith, and should be embraced by true men/women of religion.

  • Dianne

    I agree and have already signed the petition. How about publicizing Sanal Edamaruku as well? A Catholic blogger might be more influential than an atheist in terms of getting charges against him dropped.

  • keddaw

    Didn’t he:
    a) Break the law;
    b) Make a blasphemous image of the Prophet Mohammed pbuh;
    c) Make a graven image;
    d) An image of likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth;

    I mean, these are not things I care about, but surely religious people, especially followers of Moses, should? (cough*Leah*cough)

    • A) Why would Moses care about Indonesian law?
      B) I’m not sure that Moses had particularly defined views about Mohammed.
      C/D) I just love it when people outside a religion decide exactly what interpretive framework should be applied to that religion’s sacred texts. It’s just so helpful and intellectually generous.

      Wait, that last one doesn’t seem quite right to me.

    • deiseach

      Oh my, keddaw, as a Romn Catholic I have never, ever heard that bit about graven images before.

      Never. Not once has a non-Roman Catholic, particularly anyone of the Reformed bent, ever made a point about graven images, or idols, or idolatry, or statue-worship,or putting up false gods in place of the true God, or paganism cloaked under the name of Christianity, or Babylon Mystery Religion.

      Not once ever, ever have I ever encountered this. I await with breathess anticipation your next instructions and revelations on points of doctrine that I have never been confronted with before nor taken under consideration, such as Mariolatry, worshipping saints, thinking dead people can help me, buying salvation, being ignorant of the Bible and the true Gospel and re-crucifying Christ in the Mass.

      • deiseach

        And to anyone who feels like bringing up the topic of Catholics worshipping statues – no, we don’t.

        We worship felt banners now.


        • Jmac


        • Ted Seeber

          Must be the modern Post-Spirit-Of-Vatican-II Catholicism I was raised in.

          Thank God I converted 🙂

          • deiseach

            If it’s not too inquisitive, Ted, converted to what or from what?

          • Ted Seeber

            Converted to Ultramontaine Vatican II Orthodoxy from Spirit of Vatican II Felt Banner Heterodoxy.

            “All you need is Jesus” is a heresy of the fundamentalists that crept in the back door of the church. But the opposite heresy seems to be “All you need is the Council of Trent”.

      • desiach 1
        keddaw 0 (but only because I’m arbitrarily deciding that we can’t give negative scores for unoriginality) 😉

        Also, the banners quip nearly made me fall out of my chair.

        • deiseach

          Not original with me; I saw it elsewhere and nearly split my sides laughing, because truly, the Universal Church is one in this 🙂