In DC? Protest at 2pm Today to Free Alexander Aan!

The Center for Inquiry is mobilizing a protest for today at 2pm ET at the Indonesian Embassy in Washington, DC, in the hopes that we might convince officials to release Alexander Aan, the man who was arrested and convicted for “spreading religious hatred” by simply declaring his atheism on Facebook. If you’re anywhere nearby, please join in. Freethinkers must send a strong message that governments the world over should respect freedom from religion. Details and CFI’s full press release are after the jump.


The Center for Inquiry (CFI), a national organization advocating for reason, science, and secular values, is holding a protest outside the Indonesian Embassy at 2:00pm ET to demand the release of Alexander Aan, an atheist arrested by Indonesian authorities for the “crime” of atheism and convicted for “spreading religious hatred.”

Alexander Aan was attacked by an angry mob and then arrested following Facebook posts declaring his atheism and including satirical posts aimed at Islam. He has since been sentenced to two and half years in prison and fined the rough equivalent of $10,000. CFI finds this unacceptable and a violation of foundational human rights to freedom of expression and belief.

CFI will protest Aan’s treatment and demand his release at 2pm TODAY outside the Indonesian Embassy. Size of the protest unknown, as this has been a very late-breaking development.

WHAT: Protest to demand the release of Indonesian atheist Alexander Aan
WHEN: Today — June 18, 2012 at 2:00pm ET
WHERE: Indonesian Embassy, 2020 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036

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Below is CFI’s official statement on Aan’s conviction:


Last week a court in West Sumatra, Indonesia, sentenced Alexander Aan, a civil servant, to two-and-a-half years in prison and ordered him to pay a $10,000 fine. His crime? Stating his beliefs about religion.

Earlier this year, Aan posted on his Facebook page a statement that God does not exist. He was then attacked by an angry mob and beaten. Indonesian government authorities acted swiftly—they arrested Aan, letting his attackers go free.

Alexander Aan did nothing more than exercise the most basic of human rights — the liberty to express his beliefs — yet he is now in prison.

Many commentators, both inside and outside of Indonesia, have observed that there is a disturbing trend of increasing intolerance in Indonesia. Religious minorities have been brutally attacked with little response by the government and Christian churches have been closed or not allowed to open.

It is unconscionable that any person should be punished simply for stating his or her position regarding religion. Freedom of belief and expression are universal human rights. Indeed, these are rights expressly guaranteed by Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. This is a treaty which Indonesia has signed and adopted, but which it is now ignoring.

We call upon the government of Indonesia to honor its treaty obligations. We call upon the government of Indonesia to release Alexander Aan immediately!

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This call to action is issued by the Center for Inquiry, a nationwide nonprofit organization that advocates on behalf of freedom of expression and freedom of religion, with particular emphasis on the rights on nonbelievers. For further information about the Center for Inquiry and its position on the Alexander Aan case, contact Communications Director Paul Fidalgo at [email protected] or 207-358-9785.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky

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  1. Just wondering… maybe it would be appropriate to turn off the advertisement below such a call to action?

  2. Rebecca Watson,

    I’m a little late, but I agree with everything you wrote. I just wrote about this on twitter and linked back here.

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