Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Alexander Aan: 'God does not exist'

Press release in my inbox just now:
Atheist Alliance International (AAI) has launched the 'God Does Not Exist' campaign to draw attention to the case of Alexander Aan, the Indonesian atheist attacked and arrested in January 2012 after posting 'God does not exist' and articles and cartoons about Islam on Facebook. Aan was convicted by an Indonesian court on 14 June 2012, sentenced to two years and six months jail and fined Rp100 million (c.US$10,600). 
AAI urges people to exercise their freedom of expression by tweeting messages of support for Aan with the hashtag #goddoesnotexist and posting 'God Does Not Exist' on their Facebook page.
Here's more on the case from the New York Daily News.

I mention this, because in similar cases in which people have been persecuted or prosecuted for making drawings of Mohammed, lots of folks on the "clash of the civilizations right" have been eager to show solidarity—and, not incidentally, insult Islam—by also drawing Mohammed. I understand the urge to blasphemy, but decided awhile back that it was mostly wrongheaded. The glee suggested to me that the intent of many Mohammed depicters was to blaspheme somebody else's faith more than to defend free speech. Their right, of course, but one that struck me ... distasteful.

I somehow doubt most folks who draw Mohammed will be moved to show solidarity with Aan this time by posting a statement—'God Does Not Exist'—that is general enough to implicate religions beyond Islam, to offend religious believers of a wider variety.

Alexander Aan shouldn't be in jail, period, for his expressions of unfaith. Are we willing to be just as vigorous—and offensive—in defending him as we are in other situations? I'm skeptical, but willing to be proved wrong.

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