Alexander Aan posted “God does not exist” on his Facebook page—and was beaten and arrested. Learn how you can help.
America may have its own issues with non-believers and secularism, but atheistic Americans should be thankful that they likely won’t ever have to experience the abuse that Alexander Aan has been subjected to in the past few months.
Alexander is something of a rarity in Indonesia—a non-believer. While the Indonesian constitution does guarantee freedom of religion, the government only recognizes six official religions (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Confucianism), and Indonesian law requires that every citizen hold an ID card that identifies that person with one of the six official religions. Almost every Indonesian identifies with some faith, with 87% of Indonesians identifying themselves as Muslim, 7% as Protestant, 3% as Catholic, 2% as Hindu, and 0.8% as Buddhist.
Unfortunately, Indonesia does not recognize agnosticism or atheism, and blasphemy is illegal, often carrying at least a 5-year jail sentence for offenders. Alexander, who works as a civil servant in Indonesia, found this out the hard way when he posted “God does not exist” on his Facebook page.
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