An Indonesian civil servant who declared himself an atheist on Facebook was arrested and is now facing jail for blasphemy after being attacked by an angry mob, police said on Friday.

Alexander An, 31, who wrote “God doesn’t exist” on his Facebook page, was beaten by a mob of dozens on Wednesday in his hometown in Pulau Punjung, West Sumatra province.

Born a Muslim, Mr Alexander ceased religious activities in 2008 saying he did not believe in God because of all the crime in the world and the number of natural disasters that befell mankind.

“If God exists, why do bad things happen?” he asked. “There should only be good things if God is merciful.” The police chief for Dharmasraya, Senior Commander Chairul Aziz, said the ‘ulema’ and other religious authorities believed Mr Alexander had defiled Islam by using passages from the Koran to denounce God.

Under the Indonesian criminal code blasphemy is defined as publicly expressing feelings or taking some action that spreads hatred, abuse or taints a religion in a way it would cause someone to disbelieve any of the country’s six official religions.

Abdul Malik Omar
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