Islamic fanatics in Jakarta break up rally promoting religious tolerance

June 1, 2008 13:25

Islamic hard-liners broke up a religious tolerance rally Sunday, beating demonstrators with bamboo sticks and calling for the deaths of members of a Muslim sect they consider heretical, witnesses said. About 200 Christians, moderate Muslims and members of Ahmadiyah - an Islamic group the government is considering banning - gathered at the National Monument in the nation's capital of Jakarta to celebrate the country's tradition of pluralism, said Gunawan Mohamad, a prominent magazine publisher who took part in the rally. At least 12 people were injured and four of them were taken to hospitals after members of the Islamic Defenders Front rushed the square waving flags and swinging sticks, organizer Anick Tohari said. "Repent or die," shouted men dressed in green and white Islamic outfits as they punched and kicked bleeding protesters, video footage showed. Children and elderly women demonstrators were caught up in the clash.

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