Center for Inquiry Condemns Jailing of Indonesian Atheist for “Inciting Religious Hatred”

June 14, 2012

The Center for Inquiry (CFI) expresses outrage over today’s ruling by an Indonesian court sentencing 30-year-old Alexander Aan to two years and six months in prison for allegedly “spreading information inciting religious hatred and animosity.” Aan was also reportedly fined 100 million rupiah (equivalent to US $10,600).

As you might recall, Aan was attacked by an angry mob and then arrested earlier this year for posting messages to Facebook expressing his lack of belief in a God, as well as several cartoons about the Islamic prophet Muhammad. Leading up to Aan’s trial, CFI joined the Asian Human Rights Commission to pressure Indonesian government officials to drop the charges. Unfortunately, they ignored our pleas.

Alexander Aan did nothing more than exercise the most basic of human rights — the liberty to express his beliefs — yet he is now in great danger. Not only has he lost his freedom, but many people in Indonesia are calling for his death. It is unconscionable that any person could be jailed or face death threats for simply stating his or her position regarding religion. Freedom of belief and expression are universal rights that should be afforded to all individuals.

In response to today’s ruling, CFI is organizing a protest outside the Indonesian embassy in Washington, D.C. The protest will take place next week, most likely on Monday afternoon, June 18. If you can attend, please email Michael De Dora at

In the meantime, please consider contacting Indonesian authorities and telling them that Aan’s sentence is unjust and should be withdrawn.

CFI will continue to track Aan’s situation and keep you informed.