What happened to the boy who pointed out that the emperor had no clothes?

You all know the tale (I hope), it is by Hans Christian Andersen. Two weavers who promise an Emperor a new suit of clothes that is invisible to those unfit for their positions, stupid, or incompetent. When the Emperor parades before his subjects in his new clothes, a small boy cries out, “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!”.

So did you ever wonder what happened next to that boy?

Well, we have an answer – they quickly grabbed him and sent him off to jail for blasphemy.

This is really all about Alexander Aan. Back in 2012 he committed the hideous crime of declaring himself an atheist on Facebook (shudders … oh the horror). Actually, what happened next is the real crime against humanity here …

On Jan. 20, 2012, Aan was charged under Article 28(2) of the Electronic Information and Transaction Law for disseminating information aimed at inciting religious hostility and under Criminal Code articles 156a(a) and 156a(b) for blasphemy and for encouraging others to embrace atheism.

Aan was also fined Rp 100 million


During the sentencing, the presiding judge described Alexander’s actions as having “caused anxiety to the community and tarnished Islam” – except it didn’t, because what has actually tarnished Islam are the actions of all those that jail people for simply not believing.

What was going on here is that he lives in Indonesia where Islam is the predominant faith, and so this ia a clear and distinct example of everything that is wrong about that belief – tolerance is limited to muted acceptance of other religions, and not believing at all is disallowed by law (yes, a real thought crime).

So let me replay that for you – as long as you believe something, well that’s fine, but if you just happen to point out that the emperor has no clothes at all and is butt naked, then you go to jail.

Now just to make this totally clear, there is no objective evidence for any god claims …

A god claim is presented, so you ask for some evidence.

In reply you are told either, “well everything came from something right?” … or …”the qu’ran / bible is evidence”.

To which you then point out … “you are just making that up, and where did your god come from?” … or … point out that the qu’ran / bible is not “evidence” it is simply the same claim written down.

This usually then leads to, “ah but it is all faith”, or similar, which when translated, turns out to mean believing stuff that just happens to be popular, but has exactly zero evidence.

So yes, the emperor really does have no clothes at all, and so those that have the courage to point this out in places such as Indonesia where beliefs dictate what happens will indeed end up in jail for not believing things that have no evidence at all.

This is quite frankly outrageous and a gross breach of very basic human rights.

So things are bad in Indonesia … oh but wait, it gets a lot worse. A 2010 poll by Pew Research Center showed that 30% of the population agree with administering the death penalty for leaving Islam. In other words, turn around and declare, “You know what, I don’t believe this bullshit anymore, I’m out“, and the result is that almost 1 out of every 3 think it is a jolly good idea to put you to death for such a vile thought crime.

OK, there is actually some good news here. First, that statistic when turned around means that at least 2 out of every 3 are in fact decent human beings and not complete religious lunatics, and so while the other 30% might indeed think the death penalty is an appropriate response for thinking the wrong thoughts, they don’t actually get to do that (legally).

There is some further even better news here,  Alexander Aan is out, they released him from jail a few days ago, but the facts are, it is still against the law to simply doubt, and so in Indonesia today anybody who points out that the emperor has no clothes still goes to jail.

Until there is reform, then their existing legislation that violates freedom of thought, conscience, religion or belief, will not only reap a harvest of injustice, but also a considerable degree of criticism from the international community.

The Center for Inquiry’s Michael De Dora has a bit more on the latest news here:

You see, Aan is unfortunately not yet completely free. Aan was released “on license,” which means he is required to report regularly and frequently to Indonesian authorities. Furthermore, Aan is vulnerable to vigilante retribution, which means he will be forced to keep a low profile for some time. As such, I urge everyone to not draw attention to Aan or his physical whereabouts.

The Center for Inquiry has worked tirelessly on Aan’s behalf — writing Indonesian officials, organizing protests in Washington, D.C. and New York City, petitioning the White House — and we will continue to track his case to ensure he remains safe and eventually gains complete freedom. We also remain deeply concerned over Indonesia’s penal code, which allows the government to persecute atheists and religious dissidents. Articles 18 and 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights guarantee every person the rights to freedom of belief and expression. As a signatory to this treaty, Indonesia is a clearly violating its obligations, and CFI will continue to push for change.

For those interested in supporting Aan, I suggest considering making a donation to the Atheist Alliance International’s scholarship fund. And for those interested in learning more about Aan’s case, as well as similarly disturbing cases, I urge you to check out CFI’s Campaign for Free Expression, which was launched in part to highlight Aan’s plight.



Leave a Reply