Alex Aan, Prisoner of Conscience – But He Ain’t the Only One!

All the world’s attention has been focused on Alex Aan, the Sumatran atheist jailed by a bigot court for his professed disbelief. Well, not quite.

The court was more concerned that he challenged certain aspects of Islamist theology.  Endy Bayuni, in the Jakarta Post on Monday,  corrected the general misunderstanding on this. Alex was not put behind bars for ‘blasphemy’ as such, but apparently for violating the 2008 Cyber-Crimes kaw,…spreading his atheist beliefs…which the court said incited hatred and animosity.’


Those who disseminate and exemplify hatred here are those like that rabid fanatic who heads the FUI, who demanded Alex die for his Facebook comments!

Or like those Endy describes.. ‘Alex is probably safer inside. A local radical Islamic group has been anxious to get it hands on him. Before hs arrest he was dragged and beaten..the assailants walked free..’

But he’s still in prison, for expressing his thoughts.

  •   Alex Aan


But he’s far from unique in the wierd world of Indonesian free speech law.

Last March, in Klaten, Central Java, the leader of the Message of Divine Grace (AKI) Andreas Guntur, was given  FOUR YEARS by the District Court (Solopos. 13/3)


Andreas in Court


A large contingent of what Solopos described as ‘activists of mass organizations of Islam’ were hanging about for the verdict.

These primitives comprised – on this occasion – the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) – familiar to RRA reeaders for their thuggery at a book-reading in Jogja last month – as well as the Mosque Communication Activists (FKAM), and of course the stridently anti-Western Muslim Forum (FUI), not to forget the most notorious IslamoNazi movement in Indonesia, the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).



‘After the verdict was read, activists of Islamic organizations repeatedly shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ in the courtroom.’

Whenever I hear that ululation now, my mind returns to the video of the sectarian scum in Cikeusik, bludgeoning the Ahmadi martyrs – howling ‘God is Great‘ in a scene much more blasphemous than anything Alex or Andreas may have said or written.

And what was the damning ‘evidence‘ adduced in Klaten court?- ‘posters containing 15 verses of the Koran being abused and three photo albums of AKI activity.’ -evidence that is to be destroyed, which will no doubt complicate the appeal lodged by Andreas’ lawyer, Suwardi, who sensibly commented that ‘in my opinion, AKI has not been regarded as a faith community that comes from the results of human thought.”

Yes, Suwardi, true, but should we expect either humanity or thought from the MMI, the FUI or the FPI?

Until this news item was brought to my attention, I’d never heard of AKI. But I found an item in the Jakarta Globe, which explained that it  is not a religion but draws on divine inspiration allegedly received by founder R. Usman in 1969. The group’s references to Koranic verses but rejection of conventional Islamic rituals has led it to be condemned by bodies such as the Indonesia Council of Ulema (MUI), which issued a fatwa against it in 2009.

No surprise then – anywhere we find persecution or intolerance in Indonesia, we’ll usually find MUI somewhere in the vicinity.

A fatwa! Like the other insightful, intelligent MUI fatwas? Against yoga, against pre-wedding photos, against hair-straightening, against women using ojeks (motorcycle taxis) – but not men, of course, for the MUI is a 100% sexist body…



Oh, yes, and against the Ahmadiyah. These self-styled ‘scholars’ are against so much!

But don’t let’s forget – they are FOR female circumcision.

So what was so bad about this AKI? Were they into head-hunting, or human sacrifice? No, just referencing Koranic verses in ways that clashed with the MUI’s. Oh, yes, and they stayed up late at night.

But no head-hunting, no human sacrifices. That latter might be worth a fatwa, but the nearest thing we’ve seen to human sacrifice in Indonesia recently was that day at Cikeusik, February 6th, 2011, when the three Ahmadis were put to death by Islamist savages.

And nobody ever charged with those murders.

But back to blasphemy laws.

The two cases, Andreas’ and Alex’s,  are not identical, though police dereliction of duty is similar in both. The Islamist louts who attacked Alex have never been arrested, nor even pursued, by those sectarian cops in Sumatra. Any more than the Islamist rabble in Java who ‘stormed’ Andreas’ home last October. JG 14/3

But they are both prisoners of conscience, and it would be nice if Amnesty International, who took up Alex’s case, would also get involved in Andreas’ case – they are both an affront to justice!

As of course was that verdict and sentence in Temanggung, Central Java, where some hapless eccentric got five years for a similar nonsense offence early last year.

Remember? The vile rabble present in the court ran amok, incensed that no death penalty was pronounced, and attacked the local churches – now that’s more like blasphemy!


Blasphemous Vandalism in Temanggung


Some of the sacrilegiious mob got arrested, but they all got sentences much shorter than Alex or Andreas.

Justice? A sick joke!

President SBY has the power to commute sentences. Better still, he could see to it that true justice prevails and issue a handful of Presidential pardons, perhaps on Idul Fitri, to show the world what his Minister of Religious Affairs told us last month, that Indonesia is the most tolerant country in the world. JG 25/5