Jakarta - Government prosecutors demanded a two-year prison term Monday for an Indonesian Muslim hardliner on trial for his alleged role in a violent attack against an interfaith rally in early June that left dozens of people injured.
Prosecutors said Habib Rizieq Shihab had been proven guilty for ordering his followers to commit violence against the demonstrators, the state-run Antara news agency reported.
The prosecutors charged Shihab, chairman of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), with violating the criminal code articles on ambush, inciting violence and spreading hatred, which could bring a maximum sentence of nine years in prison.
Like in the previous hearings, dozens of white-clad FPI activists packed the courtroom, and they frequently chanted "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great), witnesses said about the trial, which took place amid tight security.
Shihab told the court repeatedly that he did not give any order to his followers to attack the rally, claiming that he was not at the scene when the incident took place at Jakarta's National Monument (Monas) area.
On June 1, hundreds of stick-wielding FPI followers violently attacked an interfaith rally in support of Ahmadiyah, an Islamic minority dubbed "heretical" by the country's top Muslim clerics.
Dozens were injured in the attack, which sparked an outcry from moderate Muslim groups and government officials across the country, demanding the government ban the extremist organization.
Shihab, who was jailed for seven months in 2004 for inciting vandalism on entertainment spots in Jakarta and spreading hatred against the government, earlier this year declared "war" on the minority Ahmadiyah sect, which does not believe Muhammed was the last prophet, breaching one of the basic tenets of Islam.
A week after the violent attack, the government issued a decree ordering the Ahmadiyah minority sect's followers to cease all activities and return to mainstream Islam or face five years imprisonment and the disbanding of the group.
Mainstream Muslims reject Ahmadiyah's claim of the prophethood of its founder, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, who died in 1908 in India. Most Muslims believe that Mohammed is the last of the prophets.
Indonesia is home to the world's largest Islamic population, with nearly 88 per cent of its 225 million people professing to be Muslim. The country has a long history of religious tolerance. (dpa)
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