Indonesian hard-line Muslim gets 18 months in jail
By ZAKKI HAKIM,Associated Press Writer AP - Friday, October 31
JAKARTA, Indonesia - An Indonesian court sentenced a hard-line Muslim leader to 18 months in jail Thursday for inciting an attack on an interfaith rally that left dozens injured.
Rizieq Shihab is the leader of the Islamic Defenders' Front, which has a long record of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies and torching buildings belonging to rival groups like Ahmadiyah, an Islamic sect it considers heretical.
Panusunan Harahap, presiding judge at the Central Jakarta District Court, found him guilty Thursday of inciting followers to attack about 200 demonstrators _ including Christians and Ahmadiyah members _ celebrating the country's tradition of pluralism in June.
The violence took place in the heart of the capital, embarrassing the government.
Shihab, 43, said he would appeal.
Around 500 of his followers threw stones and bottles at police and tried to block the car taking him from the courthouse. Police responded by firing tear gas. There were no reports of arrests or injuries in the brief clash.
Moderate Muslims have called for the disbanding of Shihab's group, known by its Indonesian acronym, FPI.
Later Thursday, the same panel of judges sentenced Munarman, the leader of the group's youth wing, the Islamic Defenders' Laskars, to 18 months in jail for committing violence against the demonstrators.
Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country in the world but is secular with a history of religious tolerance. In recent years, however, an extremist fringe has grown louder.
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