A crowd of Muslim extremists burned down two churches Tuesday and a third looted during clashes with police in central Java. They demanded the death penalty for a Christian condemned for blasphemy of Islam, police said.
The 58 year old man was tried for having distributed leaflets insulting Islam. He received a sentence of five years in prison, the maximum penalty for this offense. The ruling has angered a crowd of some 1,500 people, who thought the sentence too lenient.
"Two churches were burned. The windows were broken and roofs on fire. Another church was damaged," added the spokesman of the police in Central Java, Djihatono.
The 1500 protesters threw stones at police who responded with tear gas and shots into the air. A police car was burned, the agency official Anatara. The situation is calm again in mid-day.
Sunday, still in Java, a thousand people, some armed with machetes, had occurred to the appeal of Islamist organizations to prevent a meeting of the Islamic sect Ahmadiyah in a private house, in front of the police remained passive. Three members of this movement, whose two brothers were killed, police said.
A video showing the outburst of violence was released Monday by the Indonesian media. The Indonesian president said Monday had "deeply concerned" by the attack, which occurred on the eve of the opening of "week for harmony between religions."