Indonesia Muslims attack court, churches; mob kills Ahmadis

By Olivia Rondonuwu
February 8, 2011
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(Anti-riot police block protesters outside the court where a Catholic man is on trial for blasphemy in Temanggung February 8, 2011/Stringer)

Hundreds of Muslim radicals set two churches ablaze and attacked a court in Indonesia’s central Java on Tuesday, calling for harsh punishment for a Christian on trial for blasphemy, police said.

The attacks come two days after a mob beat to death three followers of a minority Islamic sect considered heretical by mainstream Muslims, and at the start of so-called “Inter-faith week”, when the country is supposed to celebrate its pluralistic heritage.

Rights groups and some analysts say a decree passed in 2008 by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s cabinet as he sought the support of influential Muslim groups has actually weakened inter-faith harmony because the law is ambiguous.

On Tuesday, hundreds of men — many wearing Muslim prayer caps or scarves — hurled rocks at a court building in Temanggung, around 400 km (250 miles) from the capital, Jakarta, as it heard prosecutors demand a five-year jail term for a Catholic man accused of distributing blasphemous material.

They also pelted riot police with rocks and other missiles before attacking three churches, setting on fire two of them as well as a police truck, said Djihartono, a Central Java police spokesman.

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(Soldiers stand guard outside a church after it was attacked by a mob in Temanggung February 8, 2011/Stringer)

Read the full story here. See also Indonesia says will act against brutal attacks on religious sect.

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