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Islamic mobs in burst of anti-Christian violence in Indonesia

Catholic World News - February 08, 2011

Thousands of Muslims attacked three Christian churches, an orphanage, and a health-care clinic in Indonesia on February 8.

A Catholic priest was badly beaten as he sought to protect the tabernacle in his church from the marauding crowd. After damaging that church, the crowd went on to torch two nearby Protestant churches and other Church institutions.

The mob violence in Java was prompted by a court decision sentencing a Christian evangelist to 5 years in prison, rather than the death sentence, after his conviction on blasphemy charges. Richmond Bawengan Antonius had been arrested last October, charged with distributing pamphlets that mocked Islam.

The burst of violence came, ironically, as Indonesia celebrated Interfaith Harmony Week. Indonesia, which is the world’s most populous Muslim country, has an official ideology that emphasizes religious tolerance.

Archbishop Yohannes Pujasumarta of Semarang said that the violence reflected a disturbing trend, as in recent months “the intolerance of that group of fanatics has mounted.”

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