AAI launches scholarship fund for jailed Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan

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Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has launched a scholarship fund for imprisoned atheist Alexander Aan to support his intention to study outside Indonesia after his eventual release. Aan was attacked and arrested in January 2012 after posting 'God does not exist' and articles and cartoons about Islam on Facebook.  He was convicted by an Indonesian court on 14 June 2012, sentenced to two years and six months jail and fined Rp100 million (c.US$10,600).
 
“Alexander is a prisoner of conscience who has lost his job and been taken away from his friends and family simply for stating his views.” said AAI President Carlos A. Diaz. “Through thisscholarship fund, we wish to support Alexander's quest to broaden his mind, in an environment that values freedom of thought and expression. We call on the Indonesian government to promptly free Alexander and ensure that freedom of expression and freedom of religion - including the freedom to be non-religious - are supported in Indonesia.”
 
Indonesia currently requires that all citizens identify themselves as belonging to one of six state-recognized religions: Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism. In addition to prosecuting Aan, the government has cracked down on minority sects and on religions seen as ‘apostates’ of Islam. 
 
Atheist Alliance International is continuing its appeal for funds to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family while he is in jail.  Donations for the legal defense fundand scholarship fund can be made at http://www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate.

AAI launches 'God Does Not Exist' campaign to support jailed Indonesian atheist

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Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has launched the 'God Does Not Exist' campaign to draw attention to the case of Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist attacked and arrested in January 2012 after posting 'God does not exist' and articles and cartoons about Islam on Facebook.  Aan was convicted by an Indonesian court on 14 June 2012, sentenced to two years and six months jail and fined Rp100 million (c.US$10,600).

AAI urges people to exercise their freedom of expression by tweeting messages of support for Aan with the hashtag #goddoesnotexist and posting 'God Does Not Exist' on their Facebook page.  AAI also encourages people to send messages of support to Aan and to write to the Indonesian authorities to call for his release and a change to Indonesian law.  For more information click here.

Atheist Alliance International will continue its appeal for funds to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family while he is in jail.  Donate at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/ Support Fund for Alex Aan).

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Atheist Alliance International condemns jail sentence for Alexander Aan

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Atheist Alliance International condemns the verdict against Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist who was attacked and arrested after posting 'God does not exist' on Facebook.  Alexander Aan was today jailed for two years and six months for blasphemy under Indonesia's criminal code.  He was also fined Rp 100 million (c. US$10,600).

Carlos A. Diaz, President of Atheist Alliance International, said "Alex simply stated his personal view on the topic of religion, yet he now faces years in jail.  This judgement is an affront to the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of conscience. Indonesia's blasphemy laws are archaic, an embarrassment to a country that appears to be striving to join the developed world and should be repealed immediately."

Atheist Alliance International has been running an appeal to assist with Alexander Aan's legal expenses and support his family since he was arrested in January this year.  Donate at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).

TAKE ACTION: Please contact the Indonesian authorities to condemn Alex Aan's jail sentence and to call for the immediate repeal of Indonesia's blasphemy laws.

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European Atheist Convention Adds to Worldwide Movement


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Deutsche Version unter der englischen Version

Globally, atheists are more organised and active then ever before - and the movement toward a secular world, based on reason and evidence, continues to gather momentum.  World-class speakers, atheists, freethinkers, humanists and secularists will gather at the 2012 European Atheist Convention The Atheist Perspective & Our Future - national, regional, global, to be held 25 - 27 May 2012 in Cologne, Germany.

Hosted by the International League of Non-Religious and Atheists (IBKA) and Atheist Alliance International (AAI) in cooperation with the Giordano Bruno Foundation (GBS), speakers at the convention include PZ Myers, biologist and Pharyngula blogger, Carsten Frerk, author of the German Humanist Press Service, Taslima Nasrin, international human rights activist, Annie Laurie Gaylor, Co-Founder and Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Dan Barker, former evangelical preacher and Co-President of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Michael Schmidt-Salomon from GBS and Skepchick's Rebecca Watson.

René Hartmann, Chairman of IBKA said "There are many situations where religion has unwarranted privilege in Germany and across Europe - including in relation to tax status, exemption from employment laws and influence on social issues.  Atheists and secularists must cooperate within their own countries and across borders to make their voices heard and promote critical thinking about religion and its influence. The Atheist Perspective & Our Future is an excellent opportunity to listen to insightful talks, meet other secular-oriented people and consider the next steps to promote a fairer, more rational Europe."

“It's fantastic to see the worldwide movement represented strongly in Europe" said AAI President Tanya Smith.  "The Atheist Perspective & Our Future adds to previous European conventions in Denmark (2010) and Ireland (2011) and in 2012 there has already been the success of the Global Atheist Convention in Australia, the first Southeast Asian atheist convention - in the Philippines - and Imagine No Religion 2 in Canada.  Atheists are out and proud as we should be - we advocate critical thinking about religion and public policy based on reason and evidence - a religion-neutral approach that is fair for all."

Further details on the 2012 European Atheist Convention can be found at www.ibka.org/en/convention2012  and http://www.facebook.com/ pages/2012-European-Atheist- Convention/300798196637127.

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Secular Movement Builds Momentum, Canadian Atheist Convention Sells Out

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The global movement toward a secular world, governed by reason and evidence, continues to gather momentum. Imagine No Religion 2, which has sold out weeks in advance, will bring together world-class speakers, thinkers and activists at an atheist convention to be held 18 - 20 May 2012 in Kamloops, British Columbia.

Hosted by the Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought (KCFRT) and supported by Atheist Alliance International (AAI) and the Centre for Inquiry Canada (CFI Canada), speakers at the convention include Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist and bestselling author of A Universe from Nothing: Why There Is Something Rather than Nothing, Maryam Namazie, an activist and commentator who founded Iran Solidarity and is Spokesperson for One Law For All and the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain, PZ Myers, biologist and author of the Pharyngula blog, Desiree Schell, host of the Skeptically Speaking radio show, Christopher diCarlo, activist and author of How To Be A Really Good Pain in the Ass:  A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions, and many others.  Further information on the convention speakers can be found in the Appendix.

Bill Ligertwood, Director of the Kamloops Centre for Rational Thought, said "KCFRT is excited to be hosting Imagine No Religion 2.  We have doubled attendance from last year's convention, with people attending from as far away as Amsterdam and from all over western Canada and the US.  This year's convention marks the largest of its kind in Canadian history and for a relatively small organization in a small city, it's an accomplishment that KCFRT is very proud of.  KCFRT continues to put the secular worldview out front in British Columbia and Canada - this is especially important right now with an avowed right-wing Christian federal government in power." 

Imagine No Religion 2 is part of a growing international movement.  There was record attendance for the 2012 Global Atheist Convention in Australia last month, the first Southeast Asian atheist convention was held in the Philippines recently and Imagine No Religion 2 is a fantastic part of this series,” said AAI President Tanya Smith. “Globally, atheists and freethinkers are demonstrating that we will no longer remain silent and we demand that public policy is based on reason and evidence, not religious interpretations. Atheism is no longer taboo, nor is it something to hide; instead it is a point of pride.”

Michael Payton, National Director of CFI Canada said "It is truly a pleasure to work with such esteemed collegues as AAI and KCFRT to present this convention to the public. Imagine No Religion 2 is easily set to be the most successful, educational and enlightening event to take place for atheists and skeptics in Canada and we are happy to welcome our guests, speakers and fellow leaders to take part in moulding a more inclusive and cooperative environment for all freethinking people in Canada and across the world." 

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Filipino non-belief - are you ready for this?

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The Philippine Atheist and Agnostics Society (PATAS) will host its first convention, Filipino non-belief - are you ready for this? this Saturday 21 April at the Bayview Hotel, Manila.

Filipino non-belief - are you ready for this? will be the first atheists/agnostics convention in Asia and represents a significant step for non-believers in Asia.  John Paraiso, Executive Director of PATAS said "This convention is a wake-up call for the Filipino non-believer that he or she is not alone. A call to come out of the closet and recognize that non-belief in a deity is neither a mental illness nor a desire to do wrong. The convention is also to call the attention of the Filipino pious, so that they can learn the truth about our stand as non-believers.  It may be only a day event, but the impact of this convention will be felt for many days to come."

Atheist Alliance International, a sponsor of the Convention, will be represented at the event by Tanya Smith, President.  Tanya Smith said "It is magnificent to see atheists in the Philippines being organised and active.  After A Celebration of Reason in Australia last week and with conventions in Germany and Canada in May this is a fantastic period of atheist activism around the world."

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Atheist Alliance International congratulates the 2012 Global Atheist Convention, A Celebration of Reason

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The 2012 Global Atheist Convention, A Celebration of Reason will be held at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre this weekend, 13 - 15 April.

Arranged and hosted by the Atheist Foundation of Australia, A Celebration of Reason will feature some of the world's leading atheist speakers including Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Ben Elton and Eugenie Scott.

Atheist Alliance International will be represented at the Convention by Tanya Smith, President, and Victor Franco, Director.   Tanya Smith said "With thousands attending, this will be the largest atheist convention ever, anywhere.  Followed by atheist conventions in the Philippines, Canada and Germany over the next month or so, A Celebration of Reason is a leading example of atheists being visible, organised and saying 'the damage done to our society by religion has got to stop'.  It will be a fantastic weekend of rational thought and a unique opportunity to hear from this group of world-class speakers."


Atheist Alliance International launches new branding


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Atheist Alliance International launches new branding
 
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) is pleased to launch its new branding today, a further step in AAI's evolution after the 2011restructure to separate its former US-focused activities and re-launch as a genuinely global alliance.
 
The new branding was created by Jake Stollery of Stollery creative company in Australia, who said "The logo is a visual unification of the characters A, A, and I, represented by the two apexes, single line and circle at the base. Elegant typography balances the strong, crimson logo - a colour chosen for its association with the atheist 'Out Campaign'. The new branding is the culmination of several months of close work with the AAI Board and represents the bold, progressive direction of AAI's goals."
 
Tanya Smith, AAI President, said "We are thrilled with the new branding.  It is the result of Stollery's creativity and input from the many AAI members and supporters who took the time to review options and provide their feedback."


 

Atheist Alliance International strongly condemns violence in Afghanistan after Quran burning

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Atheist Alliance International strongly condemns violence in Afghanistan after Quran burning

Atheist Alliance International strongly condemns the violent protests in Afghanistan, which erupted after copies of the Quran were burnt in error at a US base.  It has been reported that more than 30 people have died, including protesters and US troops.

Tanya Smith, President of Atheist Alliance International said "We oppose the burning of the Quran.  Burning books - regardless of their content - is an affront to freedom of expression, and a particularly insensitive action in this case.  The mistake was quickly acknowledged and apologised for, as it should have been.  However, the response to the burning of the Quran has been far worse than the burning itself - real people have died and Afghanistan has been destabilised further.  Those who protest violently and commit murder deserve far stronger condemnation than those who accidentally burn a book, no matter how sacred some people consider that book to be."

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AAI launches appeal to support Alex Aan

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Indonesian authorities must support freedom of speech and conscience

Atheist Alliance International launches appeal to support Alexander Aan

Atheist Alliance International (AAI) demands that the Indonesian government support freedom of speech and freedom of conscience by immediately releasing Alexander Aan from custody and dropping all charges against him, pursuing the perpetrators of the physical attack against Aan and repealing the country’s oppressive anti-blasphemy legislation.
 
“Alexander simply expressed his view that there is no god.  In contrast, his attackers assaulted a real person and must be brought to justice,” said AAI President Tanya Smith.

“Indonesia’s anti-blasphemy laws are an appalling relic from the country’s period of dictatorship.  They should be repealed as an essential step towards the freedom of Indonesia's people and the country's participation in the modern world,” Smith said.

Karl Karnadi, an Indonesian atheist associated with AAI said "Any religious person would say that gods of other religions do not exist. Why should Alex be arrested for effectively saying the same? Just because he is an atheist doesn't mean that he should be jailed. Religious and non-religious people are going to disagree and that may offend some, but that's a natural outcome from people having different views. Such an absurd law should not exist in Indonesia or in any other place." 

Police in Dharmasraya, western Sumatra, on Friday (20 January) said that Aan had been charged with blasphemy for postings he made on a 1,200-member Facebook group.

Aan had initially been taken into ‘protective custody’ after he was beaten by a mob of religious zealots. There have been no indications that his assailants will face prosecution. Aan, a civil servant, has also been threatened with the loss of his job.
 
Muslim-majority Indonesia officially recognizes only six faith traditions: Islam, protestant Christianity, Catholicism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Confucianism. Citizens are forced to choose from one of these traditions when applying for identification cards.
 
Atheist Alliance International has launched an appeal for donations to help pay for Aan's legal costs and to support the Aan family's living expenses while he is in jail, at www.atheistalliance.org/support-aai/donate (Legal/Support Fund for Alex Aan).

UPDATE: Please sign the petition to support Alexander Aan here.

UPDATE: Please contact the Indonesian authorities to call for Alex Aan's release and express your concern about Indonesia's blasphemy laws.

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AAI's 2011 Top 10 Stories for the International Atheist Community

As we commence 2012, AAI looks back at the Top 10 stories for the international atheist community in 2011.

1. Outspoken Atheist Christopher Hitchens Dies

Journalist, author, iconoclast and outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens died in 2011 after struggling against esophagal cancer for over a year. Hitchens was not only well-known for his fiery rhetoric and incomparable wit, he was also celebrated in the atheist community as one of the best-known to take religion to task for its harm to society.

Hitchens first became known in much of the atheist community with his release of The Missionary Position, a scathing expose on Catholic nun "Mother" Theresa and the community center she ran in Bangladesh. Hitchens followed this work a few years later with God Is Not Great, a more comprehensive tome on the failings and corruption of religion over the centuries.

He will be missed.

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