AAI URGES INDONESIA TO REVIEW LAWS ON BLASPHEMY & RELIGIOUS EXPRESSION

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) urges the Indonesian government to review its laws that restrict freedom of speech in light of the unjust sentence of Alexander Aan, an atheist who was persecuted and jailed for expressing his views and who is now seeking recourse with the nation’s Supreme Court.

In January 2012, Aan was attacked by a mob after posting “God does not exist” on his Facebook wall. While his assailants received no reprimand, Aan was taken into police custody and, in June, was sentenced to two and a half years' imprisonment for "disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hatred or hostility."

“While we are hopeful that Alexander will find justice with his appeal, it remains an outrageous affront to human dignity and intellectual freedom that he was ever imprisoned,” said AAI President Carlos A. Diaz. “In order to ensure that this type of travesty does not happen again, it’s imperative that the Indonesian government take action to nullify or replace the unjust laws that have enabled his persecution.”

The imprisonment of Aan, whom Amnesty International has recognized as a “prisoner of conscience,” is contrary to international norms and universal human rights. The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief has maintained that “the right to freedom of religion or belief does not include the right to have a religion or belief that is free from criticism or ridicule.”

AAI is also concerned about Aan’s treatment in prison. His lawyer has communicated that prison officers have seized a number of books from Aan, in spite of them being widely available at Indonesian bookstores.  In addition to limiting Aan’s freedom of speech, through this action authorities are restricting his freedom of inquiry.

“In recent years Indonesia has sought to position itself as a modern society in relation to freedom of expression, the press and democracy – and by striking down its blasphemy laws, Indonesia has an opportunity to distinguish itself as a leader among Muslim-majority nations," said Diaz.

Atheist Alliance International has been running an appeal to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family since he was arrested in January this year, and is also seeking donations to support Alex in his desire to study outside Indonesia after his release from prison.  Donate at www.atheistalliance.org/ support-aai/donate (Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan or Scholarship Fund for Alex Aan).
TAKE ACTION: Please contact the Indonesian authorities to condemn Alex Aan's jail sentence and to call for the immediate repeal of Indonesia's blasphemy laws.

Atheist Alliance International

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is a global alliance of atheist/freethought groups and individuals, committed to educating its members and the public about atheism, secularism and related issues.

Atheist Alliance International's vision is a secular world where public policy, scientific inquiry and education are not influenced by religious beliefs, but based upon sound reasoning, rationality and evidence.  Atheist Alliance International's mission is to challenge and confront religious faith, to strengthen global atheism by promoting the growth and interaction of atheist/freethought organisati ons around the world and to undertake international educational and advocacy projects.

Carlos A. Diaz
President, Atheist Alliance International
t: +54 9 11 5061 4091
e: president@atheistalliance. org
languages: English, Spanish, French, German, Portuguese
www.atheistalliance.org