National

Seven declared suspects
of blasphemy

Police declared on Wednesday a leader of the Sion City of Allah Christian sect and his six followers in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara, suspects of blasphemy.

The suspects, Nimrot Lasbaum and his six disciples: Nehemia Ludji Wudu, Natanael Hendrik Ngahu, Ruben Huki Hawu, David Agustinus, Kornelis Basten Baitanu and Meon Nubatonis, were detained at Kupang Police's detention center.

"They were charged under Article 156 of the Criminal Code on blasphemy," Kupang police detective chief Adj. Comr. Anto Seven Berutu told reporters.

Police have seized six robes of various colors, six scarf used as belts, two bibles and several songbooks from the suspects.

According to the police, the sect's doctrines deviated from Christian teachings, and the sect only based its teachings on the book of Jeremiah.

Berutu said the sect banned its members from attending church on Sunday. "In fact, Sunday is a worship day for Christians after six days of working."

Berutu added the followers were forbidden from going to Church until 2011 and from paying their condolences.

"They *sect* believe people should not take care of the dead."

Berutu said the sect also rejected the holy communion conducted by the Timor evangelical church (GMIT), which served wine and bread, because it deviated from Christian teachings. The sect also rejected wedding ceremonies conducted by the GMIT in church.

GMIT praying group chairman Melkianus Adoe said the Sion City of Allah sect was illegal since its liturgies deviated from Christianity teachings.

"The group is categorized as illegal since the liturgy is deviant from Christianity. I support the legal process conducted by the police. If the sect was found committing blasphemy, they should be processed according to the law," Melkianus said.

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