Three Churches Targeted in Central Java Violence
A Muslim mob burned churches and clashed with police in Indonesia on Tuesday as they demanded the death penalty for a Christian man convicted of blaspheming against Islam, police said.
Two days after a Muslim lynch mob killed three members of a minority Islamic sect, crowds of furious Muslims set two churches alight as they rampaged in anger over the prison sentence imposed on defendant Antonius Bawengan, 58.
A court in the Central Java town of Temanggung had sentenced the man to five years in jail, the maximum allowable, for distributing leaflets insulting Islam.
But this only enraged the crowd, who said the sentence was too lenient, police said.
“Today was the climax of the trial … The mob shouted that he should receive the death sentence or be handed over to the public,” Central Java province police spokesman Djihartono said.
“There are two churches that have been burned. The windows were shattered and the roofs were charred … There is also another church that was damaged.”
About 1,500 protesters took to the streets and pelted stones at the police, who responded with tear gas and fired warning shots into the air. One police vehicle was set ablaze, Antara news agency reported.
They chanted “kill, kill” outside the court and “burn, burn” as they set upon the churches.
“There were about 1,500 people who protested against 1,000 police members. The situation is calm now,” Djihartono said.