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article imageIndonesian arrested for posting on Facebook 'God does not exist'

By JohnThomas Didymus     Jan 22, 2012 in World
Jakarta - Police have arrested an Indonesian who posted "God does not exist" on Facebook. Alexander said he does not believe in angels, devils, heaven and hell. The fan page has received 1,238 "likes" showing there are more atheists "at large" in Indonesia.
AdnKronos.com reports that after Alexander, a civil servant, declared on Facebook that "God does not exist," a group of people came to his office in Pulau Punjung, Dharmasraya Wednesday, and beat him up before taking him to the police. According to The Jakarta Globe, the men who attacked Alexander at his work place, the Dharmasaya Development Planning Board (Bappeda), included government officials.
The police took the man into custody and are investigating the case for possible charges of blasphemy.
Alexander, 31, may lose his job and go to jail if he can't work up enough faith to believe in one of the Gods of the six religions officially recognized by the Indonesian state. In Indonesia, blasphemy carries a maximum sentence of five years in jail. The Indonesian state gives official recognition to six religions, namely, Islam, Protestant, Catholic, Hindu, Buddhism and Confucianism.
"God does not exist"
Dharmasraya Police Chief Sr. Cmr. Chairul Aziz, according to The Jakarta Globe, said Alexander moderated a Facebook account called "Ateis Minang" (Minang Atheists) and had posted an update on the account that said, "God does not exist."
The Jakarta Globe reports Alexander argued on Facebook that he does not believe in the existence of God because of the evil and suffering in the world, crime and disasters. According to the atheist: “If God indeed exists, why do bad things happen? There should only be good things if God is merciful.”
Alexander explained he was born a Muslim but abandoned his faith in 2008.
The atheist, commenting on his ordeal, said: “I have no idea what the problem is. When I arrived at the office, a mob came and beat me, and took me to the police.”
But Police Chief Aziz did not confirm to reporters that Alexander was attacked. Rather, he said Alexander was taken into protective custody to prevent anarchy. The police officer said the atheist was in police custody because he was afraid of being intimidated or hurt.
Aziz explained further that the police would receive recommendations from the West Sumatra Coordinating Agency to Supervise Religion and Beliefs as well as the Ministry of Religious Affairs before taking a decision on further action in the case. Aziz said: "If they (the authorities) consider what he did blasphemy, we will charge him."
Gusrizal Gazahar, head of the West Sumatra chapter of the Council of Ulema (MUI), has said to reporters that he wants Alexander dismissed from his job. Police chief Aziz told reporters that, “He (Alexander) said he realized what he had said and was prepared to lose his job to defend his beliefs."
"No place for atheism in Indonesia"
AdnKronos.com reports that Dharmasraya Regent Adi Gunawan, says he has not taken the decision to dismiss Alexander from his position in the civil service. He said: “I will await the legal process and decide later about his employment status." Gunawan said he had spoken to Alexander who said he learned about atheism while studying at Padjadjaran University in Bandung, West Java. Gunawan said “I told him that there was no place in this country for his beliefs."
Meanwhile, an online battle is brewing over the case. A group on the Ateis Minang fan page are demanding the release of Alexander. Another group called, “Gerakan 10,000 Urang Minang Memblokir Ateis Minang” (10,000 Minang People Resisting Ateis Minang) are mobilizing to oppose the atheists.
More about Indonesia, Facebook, God does not exist, Alexander
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