Published: 00:00 GMT Standard Time - Friday 11 February 2011
Indonesian churches attacked in Islamist protest
Country/Region: Indonesia, South and East Asia
Three churches were attacked in Indonesia by militant Islamists who went on the rampage after demanding the death penalty for a Christian convicted of blaspheming Islam.
Around 1,500 Muslim hard-liners protested in Temanggung, Central Java, after Antonius Richmond Bawengan (58) was found guilty of distributing books and leaflets that allegedly "spread hatred about Islam". He was given the maximum sentence of five years in prison, but police said that the crowd considered this too lenient and called for the death penalty. Protestors stormed the courthouse, pelting it with rocks, after the verdict was read out at the end of the trial on Tuesday (8 February).
The violence then spread to surrounding neighbourhoods, where two churches were set ablaze and rocks were thrown at a third, causing damage. The mob chanted, "kill, kill" outside the court and "burn, burn" as they targeted the churches.
One minister, who saw his church go up in flames, was beaten up by the mob. Witnesses said that at least nine people were rushed to hospital with injuries. The protestors also pelted riot police with rocks and other missiles, attacked a school building, and torched a police truck, three cars and six motorbikes.
Ironically, the violence took place at the start of "Inter-faith week", when the country is supposed to celebrate its pluralistic heritage. It came two days after three members of a minority Islamic sect were beaten to death by a Muslim lynch mob, who considered the trio to be heretics.
Indonesia's blasphemy law was upheld last year by the constitutional court, which said it was not limiting religious freedom and was vital to religious harmony in the secular nation. But opponents say the law is used largely to defend Islam and also discriminates against believers outside the six officially recognised faiths - Islam, Protestant and Catholic Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism.
"Blasphemy laws" cause grave problems for Christians in Muslim-majority countries. In Pakistan there is a mandatory death penalty for "defiling the name of Muhammad"; Christian mother of five Aasia Bibi is currently awaiting that fate.
- 1Persecuted Christians
- 3Pray for Christians under threat this Christmas - 2 years ago
- 4Barnabas weekly newsletter 20 January 2011 - 2 years ago
- 5Barnabas weekly newsletter 02 March 2011 - 2 years ago
- 6Patrick Sookhdeo discusses plight of converts email - 2 years ago
- 7Barnabas weekly newsletter 18 November 2011 - 2 years ago
- 8Barnabas weekly newsletter 05 April 2012 - 1 year ago
- 9Barnabas persecution update 10 May 2012 - 1 year ago
- 10Barnabas persecution update 24 May 2012 - 1 year ago