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Atheist faces three counts in court

This article was originally published in the Jakarta Post.

A civil servant who incited controversy by declaring that he was atheist was on Monday indicted on three charges, including one for violating the Information Transaction Law (ITE).

The first charge brought against Alexander at the Muaro Sijungung District Court was for violating Article 28, Clause 2 of the ITE. Next was for Article 156a(a) of the Criminal Code (KUHP), and the last for violating Article 156a(b) of the KUHP.

Alexander was indicted for creating a Facebook group called Minang Atheists. Alexander wrote about Prophet Muhammad on the Facebook wall. The trial was attended by five witnesses, Hendri, Mulyadi, Doni Saptri, Yon Riadi, and Hendri Martariko, who had seen the pictures and posts on Alexander's Facebook group.

Prosecutor Ibrahim Khalil, in the indictment, said the Facebook posts and pictures insulted Islam. The posts also caused a public disturbance and outcry.

The indictment was strengthened by the fact that Yuhandri, an expert witness, said a person was not allowed to write anything that created public disturbance and outcry.

"The defendant's actions were criminal under Article 28, Clause 2 of the ITE," Ibrahim said.

Alexander was also charged under the KUHP articles because he had allegedly insulted Islam and caused conflict between him and the Islamic community.

Ibrahim also said that Alexander's leaning toward atheism was against the five tenets of state ideology Pancasila, especially the first tenet "Belief in one God," which cannot be separated from religion.

After reading the indictment, Alexander's lawyer, Roni Saputra, read out the defense statement.

Alexander has been detained since Jan. 20. He is a civil servant at Dharmasraya regency's Development Planning Board (Bappeda).