His explanation is incoherent: “The fact is that the judges in the case handed down the maximum sentence, so the rioting had nothing to do with religious issues.”
Let’s review: The report below from a Jakarta newspaper says in its own words that Antonius Richmond Bawengan was on trial for “contempt of Islam.” Bawengan had also insulted Catholics, but they declined to riot or call for his head.
By contrast, while Bawengan evidently got the maximum sentence allowable by law for “blasphemy,” the Muslim crowd outside the court wanted him to get the death penalty, and a rampage ensued.
What did they go after? Three churches, an orphanage, and a health care center. And when they invaded the Catholic church, they attacked the altar and savagely beat the priest who tried to defend the tabernacle from desecration.
But no, this has nothing to do with religion, this police chief insists, possibly hoping that a policy of “Peace through Denial” may work. Or perhaps out of fear, loyalty, or both, he simply cannot bear to point out the Muslim persecution of Christians, however obvious it is to the rest of the world.
“Central Java Police Chief: Temanggung Riot Not Related to Religion,” by Candra Malik for the Jakarta Globe, February 9 (thanks to Twostellas):
Temanggung, Central Java. The Central Java Police claimed on Wednesday that the attack a day earlier on two churches and a Christian school by Islamic hard-liners was not a religious conflict.
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.