An Indonesian civil servant named Alexander showed up to work on Wednesday, but instead was seized and reportedly beaten by a mob of dozens. The group, which included some of his own colleagues, then dragged him to the police station where he was taken into custody, according to press reports. His incarceration was said to be “protective.”
His offense? To post, “God does not exist” and, “If God exists, why do bad things happen?” on Facebook. Worse, Alexander, (also reported as Alexander An and Alex Aan) administered a Facebook group for atheists called Ateis Minang which had over 1,000 members. The group has gained roughly 200 members since his arrest, and another page, Alexander Liberation Support Aan has sprung up in support of him.
Dharmasraya Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Chairul Azis said that the man was arrested because of his writings on the fan page and his direct statements saying that he did not believe in God.
“He has triggered unrest among local residents,” Chairul told The Jakarta Post on Friday.Indonesia is the largest Muslim country in the world, and blasphemy is taken seriously, punishable by up to five years in prison. Alexander apparently said that he grew away from Islam as he grew older.
That won’t soften the future for him: local police chief Chairul Aziz said that he could be facing criminal charges. However, Indonesia is a sometimes-brutal society in which Alexander may indeed be safer in police custody, however protracted, than on the outside.
It’s not currently known if charges have officially been laid yet, but you don’t have to be a prophet to see them coming.
Photo by Chez Julius Livre 1