A furious Islamist mob of hundreds torched two churches in Aceh, Indonesia and attacked another resulting in clashes that killed one person and wounded four in clashes.
The man killed was reportedly one of the Islamists.
The mob alleged the first church had been constructed without a permit. “After burning the church, the crowd – made up mostly of members of the Muslim Youth Forum – tried to attack another but ran into opposition from Christians,” reported Husein Hamidi, chief of police in Aceh.
Human rights group the Alliance of United North Sumatra said that another Catholic Church was burned by the mob.
The attacks took place in Singkil district, where a Christian minority lives surrounded by a far larger Muslim majority.
A few weeks ago, Islamists demonstrated under the banner Aceh Youth Concerned for Islam, demanding the government demolish unlicensed churches that had not been granted a building permit. In response the government slated 10 churches for demolition, giving a further 14 churches six months to obtain the required documentation.
But the mob could not wait for the demolition and yesterday acted on its own to destroy the churches.
Aceh is the most religious of Indonesia’s provinces, earning itself the nickname The Door to Mecca.
Aceh has been governed by sharia law as state law since 2005 when the federal government allowed the state extra-autonomous status as part of a peace deal with the separatist Islamist Free Aceh Movement.