'Minang atheist' appeals
to Supreme Court

Alexander Aan, 31, a South Sumatra civil servant who was sentenced to two years and six months’ imprisonment for defaming Islam after declaring himself an atheist on a social media website, has filed an appeal with the Supreme Court.

Alexander’s lawyer, Roni Saputra, said on Monday that he had filed the appeal on Oct. 2, because the judges at the high court had ignored the fact that the Negeri Muaro District Court in West Sumatra was unable to prove that Alexander had disseminated information that could trigger clashes within society.

“The ones who spread and cause hatred are the two witnesses, who told about Alexander’s postings [declaring himself an atheist] on Facebook,” said Roni, who is also the deputy director of the Padang Legal Aid Foundation.

While serving his sentence at Muaro Sijunjung Penitentiary, Alexander is also being restricted from reading books, according to Roni.

“The prison officers took away some of the books given by Alexander’s supporters and handed them over to the police,” he said. “The seized books include a book about the revolution in China and a book on Buddha’s spiritual journey. They were afraid that Alexander would remain an atheist [if he reads the books], whereas the books are widely available at bookstores.”

Alexander has also complained about the restriction.

“There’s nothing I can do [in prison] aside from read books with light content. I can no longer enjoy quality books,” he told The Jakarta Post prior to his trial at the district court in June. (han/iwa)

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