Moral Low Ground

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Indonesian Atheist Alexander Aan Attacked by Angry Mob, Facing 5 Years Imprisonment for Posting “God Doesn’t Exist” on Facebook

An Indonesian atheist was attacked by a mob and faces five years behind bars for posting “God doesn’t exist” on his Facebook page.

The Jakarta Post reports that 30-year-old  Alexander Aan, a civil servant from the Dharmasraya regency of West Sumatra, was arrested Friday for blasphemy after he created a Facebook page titled Ateis Minang (Minang Atheist), which more than 1,200 Facebook users “liked.” But someone reported him to the Indonesian Council of Ulema, the nation’s Islamic authority.

Dharmasraya Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Chairul Azis told the Post that Aan was arrested because “He has triggered unrest among local residents.”

If found guilty, he faces five years imprisonment under Indonesian law prohibiting anyone from bad-mouthing any of the country’s six recognized religions. Indonesia, population 240 million, is the world’s most populous Muslim country. Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism are all recognized religions. But atheism is strictly verboten.

In addition to declaring his belief that “god” does not exist, Aan also expressed doubt in the existence of angels, devils, heaven, hell and other myths.

When Aan showed up at his office in  Pulau Punjung, Dharmasraya on Wednesday, he was attacked by an angry mob. But instead of protecting him, authorities placed the atheist under arrest. He could lose his job over the incident.

“He said he realized what he had said and was prepared to lose his job to defend his beliefs,” Chairul told the Post.

That anyone would face prison time for denying the existence of an entity that cannot be proven to exist is utterly absurd. From a purely objective perspective, there is a far greater chance that “god” as envisioned in the Islamic (or any other) religion is nothing but a fanciful fairy-tale. Moral Low Ground condemns in the strongest possible manner the deplorably feeble-minded Indonesian religious authorities. Groups like the Indonesian Ulema Council are the reason why American Christian fundamentalists and their rabid right-wing political patrons call Muslim fundamentalists “Islamofascists.” In cases like this, the reactionary right is, well, right. For those folks, atheists face “hell” in the afterlife. But for those living under the rule of Islamic authorities who would jail anyone who denies the existence of that which probably does not exist, atheists face hell on earth.

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