Indonesian Muslims Call for Atheist Beheading

Alexandar Aan, a 30-year-old father and civil servant who was beaten, fired from his government job, and then arrested by local authorities for daring to declare "God doesn't exist" on his personal Facebook page, is now facing calls for his beheading by local Muslims.

The trouble began several weeks ago when civil servant Alexander Aan posted a message on the Facebook page of Atheist Minang, a group of Indonesians with godless beliefs. It read: “God doesn’t exist.”  The post so enraged residents in Aan’s hometown of Pulau Punjung in West Sumatra province that an angry mob of dozens stormed his office and beat up the 30-year-old. He was then summarily fired and later picked up by Indonesian authorities as part of an investigation of whether he violated the law by 'Insulting Islam'.  If convicted of blasphemy, he could face a five-year jail sentence.

But none of this has been enough for some Muslim extremists, who have now called for his beheading. “He has hurt the feelings of the people in Minang society and damaged the religious structure by his posting,” said the local head of the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI) Syamsul Bahri Khatib. The Indonesian Council of Ulama is the country's recognized authority on Islamic matters, and the secular government often follows the MUI's recommendations in matters of Islamic law.

Atheist Alliance International has called on the Indonesian authorities to end their persecution of Mr. Aan, as well as contacted several international human rights bodies and governments to put pressure on the Indonesian government. It has also started a legal relief fund for Mr. Aan's assistance. Supporters are encouraged to contribute to allow Mr. Aan the ability to defend himself and his human rights.