A statue of Jesus Christ is left smashed on the floor of a
church that was attacked by Muslim hardliners in Temanggung,
Central Java, on Tuesday. (AP Photo/Slamet Riyadi)
Central Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said the attack, which also saw two other buildings vandalized, was “purely an act of criminal vandalism.”
He added the fact that the mob had targeted Christian buildings did not prove that they were hostile to the religion.
“The mob attacked and destroyed a number of places, including churches, triggered by their dissatisfaction over a verdict handed down to Antonius Richmord Bawengan,” he said.
“The fact is that the judges in the case handed down the maximum sentence, so the rioting had nothing to do with religious issues.”
Antonius, a Christian on trial for contempt of Islam, was on Tuesday sentenced to five years in prison by the Temanggung District Court, as per the prosecution’s demand, but the ruling angered hard-line Islamic groups that deemed it too lenient and subsequently went on the rampage.
Nine people were injured in the incidents, mostly from projectiles hurled by the attackers.
One person was arrested in the aftermath of the violence, and on Wednesday police announced they had made seven more arrests.