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Jakarta Post

Eight named suspects for vandalizing ‘meeting hall’ for Muslims in N. Sulawesi

  • Agustinus Hari

    The Jakarta Post

Manado, South Sulawesi   /   Thu, February 6, 2020   /   07:14 am
Eight named suspects for vandalizing ‘meeting hall’ for Muslims in N. Sulawesi A screenshot of a video showing a group of people vandalizing an Islamic building in the Agape housing complex in Tumaluntung village, North Minahasa. (JP/Screenshot)

The North Sulawesi Police have named eight people suspects for vandalizing a meeting hall for Muslims in the predominantly Christian Agape housing complex in Tumaluntung village, North Minahasa regency, North Sulawesi.

Authorities initially arrested three suspects, two men and a woman, on Thursday last week, before making two additional arrests on Sunday, North Sulawesi Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Julest Abraham Abastin said.

“On Tuesday we arrested three more [suspects], a 44-year old woman who was in charge of provoking a mass, and two men, a 35-year-old and a 27-year-old, who destroyed the building,” Julest said on Tuesday.

Read also: Vandalized building in North Sulawesi not mosque, authorities say

The suspects were currently being detained at the North Sulawesi Police headquarters, he said, adding that the police might arrest more suspects in the future.

“Just wait for the case to develop,” he said.

The legal process for the suspects allegedly involved in the vandalism would move forward and the condition of the housing complex, where the incident took place last week, had been restored, the police said.

The incident went viral after Twitter user @MohCipto1 uploaded a video on Jan. 30 showing a group of people taking apart furniture and fixtures while wearing shoes and sandals inside the building. They appear to be followed by onlookers who record the incident on their smartphones.

The footage also briefly shows a banner put up in front of the building, which reads, “We residents of Tumaluntung village oppose the construction of this mushola/mosque in our area because 95 percent of the residents around the mosque are non-Muslims; we don’t want loudspeakers to disrupt our everyday lives; and we don’t want to be charged with blasphemy for complaining about the noise.”

Read also: Videos surface purportedly showing vandalization of N. Sulawesi 'mosque'

The building was identified on Google as Al-Hidayah Mosque, which has been the subject of controversy among local residents in recent years. A local military commander, however, said last week following the incident that the building was not a mosque, but “a public meeting hall”.

According to the police, the Muslim community used the hall to pray together and gather on Saturday evening.

Julest said the suspects faced charges under Article 170 of the Criminal Code concerning violence toward human beings and goods, which carries a maximum punishment of five years’ imprisonment. (hol)