World

Blasphemy sentence sparks riot

interns Contributor

JAKARTA—Hundreds of protesters burned churches and attacked a courthouse in central Indonesia Tuesday after a Christian convicted of blasphemy against Islam was given what they considered a lenient sentence. The rioting was the latest in a string of incidents that’s raising fears about the influence of radical Islamic groups in a country aggressively trying to position itself as one of the world’s fastest-growing—and most stable—emerging markets.

Antonius Richmond Bawengan, 58, was sentenced to five years in prison for handing out leaflets and books that “spread hatred about Islam.” Many of the Islamic hardliners who had gathered near the Temanggung District Court in central Java for the verdict wanted the death penalty, though five years is the maximum sentence.

After angry protesters tried to grab Mr. Bawengan as he was taken from court, the police fired warning shots into the air. The crowd then spread through the neighborhood, setting fire to two churches and a police vehicle and throwing rocks at a third church.

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