Indonesia Muslims attack court, churches; mob kills Ahmadis
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.