Teacher charged with blasphemy

By December 22, 2008

(MNN) — An elementary school teacher in Masohi, Central
Maluku has been detained on a charge of blasphemy after riots
broke out on December 9, Voice of the Martyrs-Canada reports. 

Allegedly, Welhelmina Holle insulted Islam while she was
tutoring a Muslim student. The news
spread throughout the community, and the Indonesian Ulema Council filed a complaint
against Holle with the police. 

A crowd of about 500 Muslims gathered outside the Central
Maluku Education Agency at 8:30 on Tuesday morning, protesting and calling for
the Holle's dismissal. The mob then
proceeded to the Central Maluku Police headquarters but dispersed when they
discovered that the police chief was not on the premises. 

Confrontations with police officials ensued, resulting in
violence. At the end of the day, two
church buildings, a health clinic, several vehicles, and about 65 homes were
burned down in the riot. 

The Jakarta Post has since reported that Central
Maluku regent Abdullah Tuasikal has temporarily suspended Holle
from her teaching position at SD Masohi elementary school. According to Compass Direct News, government
officials have promised and already begun to rebuild the church buildings and a
number of houses by Christmas. 

Several people were injured in the riots, 1,764 were
displaced, and 200 more are missing, Compass Direct News reports. The rioters inadvertently destroyed 16 houses
owned by Muslims who lived in a neighborhood populated primarily by
Christians. The displaced villagers
badly need food, water, clothing, and cooking utensils. 

Officially, the Indonesian government protects religious
freedom. In reality, all citizens must
carry an identification card that indicates their religion, and Muslims receive
preferential treatment. About 86 percent
of the population is Muslim, about 5.7 percent is Protestant, and about 3
percent is Roman Catholic. 

If convicted of blasphemy, Holle could receive a 15-year
prison sentence. 

Leave a Reply