Temanggung, Indonesia, Feb 9, 2011 / 03:51 am
An estimated 1,500 Indonesian Muslims destroyed three churches before attacking an orphanage and hospital in Central Java on Feb. 8. The mob was protesting a court's decision not to sentence a Christian man to death for defaming Islam.
Antonius Bawengan, 58, received a five-year prison sentence – the maximum penalty allowed by law – under the “blasphemy law” that has been invoked to silence critics of Islam. However, the crowd assembled at his trial believed the sentence was too lenient, and demanded his death. They assaulted a group of police officers that reportedly numbered around 1,000 before moving against the churches.
The crowd first attacked the Catholic Church of Sts. Peter and Paul, in an assault that seriously wounded a missionary priest of the Holy Family congregation. The missionary, identified only as Fr. Saldanha, was beaten by the mob as he attempted to defend the tabernacle containing the Eucharist against desecration.
The crowd later set fire to two Protestant churches, Bethel Church and Pantekosta Church, before terrorizing a Catholic orphanage and a hospital run by the Sisters of Providence.