indonesia

Indonesian man imprisoned for atheist Facebook comments

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An Indonesian man was sentenced to 30 months in prison Wednesday for posting atheist and anti-Islamic messages to Facebook.

Alexander Aan, 30, was reportedly an active member of an atheist Facebook group, where he shared irreverent cartoons of prophet Mohammed, like one where he has sex with his servant, and posted atheistic sentiments like “God doesn’t exist.”

“What he did has caused anxiety to the community and tarnished Islam,” Aan’s presiding judge said.

Indonesia is home to more than 200 million Muslims, more than anywhere else in the world.

Aan gained local notoriety about his posts in January, when an angry mob came to his office and beat him. He was arrested two days later and charged with “disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility.”

Amnesty International has condemned Aan’s arrest, citing United Nations resolutions that call for universal freedom of religion, including the choice of atheism. Indonesia is the only nation to have fully withdrawn from the UN, however.

An online petition that calls for Aan’s release is circulating online. It calls out Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, and quotes him in a 2009 speech where he called for Indonesia to “project the virtue of moderate Islam throughout the Muslim world.”

Photo by vitoadriono