Saturday, March 12, 2011

Light sentence for attack on Christians in Indonesia condemned

Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak
after the September attack.
A West Java court’s light sentence for Islamic extremists who injured a church pastor and an elder will encourage more violence and religious intolerance, said human rights and Christian leaders.

Those involved in the September 2010 clubbing of Rev. Rev. Luspida Simanjuntak and the stabbing of elder Hasian Lumbantoruan Sihombing of the Batak Christian Protestant Church in Ciketing received sentences of only five to seven months, reported Compass Direct News.

The Setara Institute for Democracy and Peace released a statement asserting that the judges’ panel was acting under pressure from Muslim extremists. “The public will think that violence, intolerance and obstruction of worship are part of their religious worship and duties,” the institute stated regarding the February 24 sentences.

Saor Siagian, attorney for the church, told Compass that the alleged planner of the attack, Murhali Barda, head of the Bekasi chapter of the Islamic Defenders Front, received a sentence of only five months and 15 days for “disorderly conduct” even though he should have been prosecuted for incitement and joint assault.

Judges of the State Court in Bekasi, West Java, handed down a seven-month sentence to Adji Ahmad Faisal, who stabbed church elder Sihombing. Ade Firman, who clubbed Pastor Simanjuntak hard enough to send her to the hospital for treatment, was given a six-month sentence.

Pastor Simanjuntak said the light sentences showed that the state was unable to fully enforce the law. “This country is more afraid of the masses than standing for justice,” she said. “That’s what happened in the state court in Bekasi. With heavy hearts we accept the verdict.”

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