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12 graves desecrated in Magelang, police rule out religious hate crime

Coconuts Jakarta - January 3, 2019

After a huge controversy regarding the sawing off of a wooden cross grave marker in Yogyakarta last month, the neighboring city of Magelang saw another possibly religiously motivated desecration of graves, though the police don't seem to think it constituted a hate crime.

On Wednesday morning, a dozen graves at the Giriloyo public cemetery (TPU) were found to have been desecrated – likely the night before. Most of the vandalism were reportedly directed at cross-shaped grave markers.

Even so, the local police say they don't think the act of vandalism was religiously motivated.

"So it's not just Christian graves that were damaged. A muslim grave was also vandalized. From the 12 graves, 11 of them are Christian and one is Muslim," Magelang City Police Chief Kristanto Yoga Darmawan told Merdeka today.

"We're still struggling to find the families [who tend to the graves] because the majority of them are all old graves. That's why we shouldn't be baited into calling this an issue related to SARA (an Indonesian acronym for ethnicity, race, and religion)."

The police say their investigation at the scene did not yield any clues as to the identity of the culprits, but that their investigation is ongoing. If captured, the culprits may be charged with destructive vandalism, a crime that may be punishable by up to two years and eight months in prison.

Last month, a Catholic family were reportedly forced to saw off a portion of their deceased loved one's cross-shaped wooden grave marker (so that it resembles the letter "T") out of request of Muslim residents that make up the majority in the neighborhood. While the incident went viral and caused outrage for the alleged act of religious intolerance, the family did not press charges and later said they had willingly agreed to saw off the cross out of respect for their neighbors.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/12-graves-desecrated-magelang-police-rule-religious-hate-crime/