In a fiery speech in court that moved some to tears, a suspended Islamic Defenders Front leader on trial for inciting attacks against a Christian group in Bekasi continued to issue threats against church leaders on Monday.Murhali Barda, a former chapter leader of the hard-line group, also known as the FPI, warned the Batak Christian Protestant Church (HKBP) against holding prayers in Bekasi, a predominantly Muslim district in West Java.
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He was suspended from the Islamic organization after his arrest in September.
“There are two messages I mean to send off to the HKBP. Do not repeat the same mistake again. Do not be stupid sheep wandering into the same yard after being asked to leave,” Murhali said, reading from a prepared defense statement at the Bekasi District Court.
“If you do not listen, do not blame the owner of that yard if he forces you out by throwing stones at you or beating you with a block of wood,” Murhali said.
The defendant is accused of inciting an attack against two HKBP leaders in Ciketing village on Sept. 12 through his anti-Christian statements on radio, text messages and his personal Facebook page.
Twelve others were brought to court in separate trials for the assault, which saw Asia Sihombing stabbed and the Rev. Luspida Simandjuntak beaten.
One of the suspects, Supriyanto, admitted in court that he had been inspired to violence by Murhali’s Facebook postings.
On Monday, Murhali denied spreading messages of hate through the social networking site, but described the 13 men on trial — including himself — as icons of “anti-Christianization.”
“Don’t you know Jesus had [only] 12 disciples? There are 13 of us,” he said.
“There will be 313 mujahids [holy warriors] who will be ready to fight against you. All we want is for [the HKBP] to respect us. We will not bother you if you do not bother us,” he added.
“I am not a crazy person. I am not going to blacken my [reputation] by doing something stupid [like inciting people to violence],” he said. “All I did was just an attempt to prevent efforts to Christianize people in Bekasi.”…
He ended his statement with a plea to judges “not to issue the wrong decision” in the case.
A plea, or a threat?
Murhali’s speech, peppered with verses from the Koran, brought many in the courtroom to tears, including his mother, his supporters and at least two police officers….