Indonesia jails victim of attack on Ahmadi sect

Human rights groups blasted the ruling as encouraging growing religious intolerance in Indonesia.

Jakarta: An Indonesian man wounded when Muslim hard-liners attacked members of his minority Islamic sect was sentenced on Monday to six months in jail, more than some of the actual attackers who were caught on video.

Human rights groups blasted the ruling as encouraging growing religious intolerance in Indonesia, the world`s largest Muslim-majority country.

The Serang District Court said Deden Sudjana - whose hand was nearly severed by a machete - resisted police orders to leave the scene and then attacked one of the leaders of the mob that killed three members of the Ahmadiyah sect.

The February 06 attack, which was captured on video and widely circulated on the Internet, showed a frenzied crowd of around 1,500 descending on members of Ahmadiyah in the village of Cikeusik with machetes, wooden clubs and rocks to try to prevent them from worshipping.

One of the attackers was shown smashing in an Ahmadi member`s skull. Police looked on as the crowd pummelled the lifeless bodies of the other victims, while others chanted "Allahu Akbar!" or "God is Great!"

So far, 12 members of the mob have been convicted. Their relatively lenient sentences of just three to six months set a chilling message about growing religious intolerance in Indonesia, said Andreas Harsono from Human Rights Watch.

He said the decision to punish one of the victims will only encourage more violence by hard-liners.

Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim and secular nation of 240 million, has a long history of religious tolerance.

But a small, extremist fringe has grown more vocal in recent years and is seeking - with some success - to impose its will on police, the judicial system and the government.

They`ve been emboldened by the inaction of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, and does not want to offend conservative Muslims by taking sides.

Ahmadiyah, which has followers around the world, is considered heretical by many Muslims and banned in many Islamic countries because of its belief that Muhammad was not the final prophet.

In recent years, hard-liners in Indonesia have attacked the sect`s mosques and intimidated some of its 200,000 followers.

Bureau Report

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