Indonesian atheist could be jailed

Jan. 19, 2012 at 5:09 PM
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JAKARTA, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- An Indonesian civil servant who moderates a Facebook page for atheists says he has been beaten and could face dismissal and even jail for blasphemy.

The man, described as a 31-year-old named Aleander, told the Jakarta Globe a group of men waylaid him and beat him Wednesday when he reached his office at the Dharmasraya Development Planning Board.

Dharmasraya Police Chief Chairul Aziz said Alexander is in protective custody. Chairul said he could not confirm the beating but that Alexander was afraid of physical assault.

Alexander said he was an observant Muslim until 2008. But he came to the conclusion that there could not be a god because of the disaster in the world.

He recently posted "God does not exist" on the Facebook page of the Minang Atheists.

The West Sumatra Coordinating Agency to Supervise Religion and Beliefs and the Ministry of Religious Affairs will recommend whether to prosecute Alexander, Chairul said. The maximum term for blasphemy is five years.

"If they consider what he did was blasphemy, we will charge him," he added.

A Muslim leader in West Sumatra said that if Alexander does not repent and join one of Indonesia's six officially recognized religions he should be fired.

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