Protesters riot in central Java town
February 08, 2011 6:22PM
HUNDREDS of protesters have gone on a rampage in a town in central Java, burning down churches and schools and clashing with police in response to a sentence request from the prosecution in a blasphemy trial.
The violence first erupted in the Temanggung District Court yesterday when the prosecution requested a sentence of five years for Antonius Richmond Bawengan, accused of insulting Islam in relation to the distribution of flyers and books.
At least three Christian churches, as well schools, had been burnt down by the early afternoon.
Tear gas was used to disperse the crowd, but sporadic clashes between protesters and police were still erupting shortly after 1pm (5pm AEDT).
Bawengan is accused of distributing books and flyers in October last year which described the Black Stone, or al-Hajaru-l-Aswad, on the Kaaba in the Grand Mosque in Mecca as looking like a woman's genitals.
The material also described the jamarat, three stone pillars in the city of Mina just east of Mecca which worshippers thrown stones at during the Haj, as looking like a man's genitals.
Bawengan, who has been in custody since October 26, has also been accused of describing Islam as a cruel religion.
The crowd initially demanded he be handed over when the sentence request was delivered, but Bawengan was lead away from the court under heavy security.
Shortly afterwards, the protesters trashed the courtroom before attacking Christian buildings, including churches and schools.