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Jakarta Post

Prison for ‘Minang atheist’

  • Syofiardi Bachyul Jb

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, June 15 2012   /  08:36 am

In what critics have condemned as a precedent that may harm free speech and individual liberty, a court in West Sumatra sentenced on Thursday Alexander Aan, 32, to two-and-a-half years in prison for blasphemy and publicly declaring himself an atheist.

The Muaro District Court in Sijunjung regency also fined Alexander Rp 100 million (US$11,100), or face another two months in prison.

The verdict was lighter than the three-and-a-half years without a fine sought by prosecutors.

Alexander may be the first person in Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation, to be imprisoned for being an atheist.

In the verdict, presiding judge Eka Prasetya Budi Dharma said Alexander was proven guilty of blasphemy against Islam and insulting the Prophet Muhammad through his personal Facebook account “Alex Aan” and the “Ateis Minang” Facebook group, of which he...