Vihara, pagodas burned down, plundered in N. Sumatra

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Vihara, pagodas burned down, plundered in N. Sumatra

  • Apriadi GunawanThe Jakarta Post

Medan, North Sumatra | Sat, July 30 2016 | 03:13 pm

Vihara, pagodas burned down, plundered in N. Sumatra

In riot: Residents gather in front of Dewi Samudera, a Chinese temple or pagoda in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, which was plundered and set ablaze by an angry mob on Friday evening. (Courtesy of

Hundreds of people plundered and burned down several Buddhist temples orvihara in Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra, on Friday evening. No fatalities or injuries occurred in the anarchic acts, which took place until early Saturday.

It is estimated that the attacks have caused billions of rupiah in losses.

North Sumatra Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Rina Sari Ginting said the riots began when a 41-year-old of Chinese descent, only identified as Meliana, reprimanded an administrator of the Al Maksum Mosque to lower its microphone volume.

Rina further said Meliana had previously conveyed similar warnings to the administrator, hence, the mosque’s congregation members visited her house following her complaint for the umpteenth time on Friday evening.

The meeting between Al Maksum congregation members and Meliana heated up, forcing Tanjung Balai Police officers to safeguard Meliana and her husband at the police station. Angry mobs continued to flock to Meliana’s house, however. Some had even attempted to burn down the house but it was prevented by people living in the neighbourhood.

People who had been seized by emotion later moved to the Juanda Vihara, which is located approximately 500 meters from Meliana’s house. “The mob attempted to set ablaze the vihara but the police managed to prevent them. They could only pelt the house of worship with projectiles, damaging it. This was the start of the anarchic acts,” Rina told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

The police officer said that in the riot, the angry mob damaged and burned down several vihara and Chinese temples or pagoda. They comprised onevihara and three pagodas on Jl. Pantai Amor, one vihara on Jl. Imam Bonjol and one pagoda on Jl. Ade Irma.

Onsite at the vihara and pagodas, Rina added that the mob destroyed prayer equipment, Buddha statues, tables, chairs, lamps, and several cars and motorbikes.

Seven people were taken into custody for allegedly plundering the houses of worship when the attacks occurred. Meanwhile, Rina said, Meliana and her family were still in protection at the Tanjung Balai Police station. The situation in Tanjung Balai reportedly has calmed down. (ebf)

SATURDAY, 30 JULY, 2016 | 11:50 WIB
7 Worship Houses in Tanjung Balai Burned

TEMPO.CO, Tanjung Balai, North Sumatra – Two monasteries and five temples located in Tanjung Balai, Medan, North Sumatra, were burned by an angry mob. This incident was triggered by a misunderstanding.

The incident eventually got all under control at around 03:30 WIB, after the Police mediate with the mob and kept on urging them to go home.

According to Tanjung Balai Police Chief, Adjunct Commissioner Ayep Wahyu Gunawan, the incident started yesterday, July 29, 2016, around 17:55 Western Indonesia Time (WIB). A woman with with the initials `M` felt disturbed by the sound of Adzan (calling of prayer) from a mosque, which is located in front of her house, and complained about it.

M and the people at the mosque then quarreled; the police and the urban village authorities immediately tried to mediate them.

In the mediation, said Ayep, someone spread a false information via a broadcast in an instant messenger service. The message broadcasted through the social media stated that the mosque was prohibited to sound any Adzan. That message ultimately made some people in Tanjung Balai went on a rampage.

“At first, they came to M`s house to do some property damage, but then they move on and multiply in number. The false info spread so fast that it actually deviated from the fact of what is actually happened,” stated Ayep when contacted by Tempo, Saturday, July 30, 2016. At this moment, Ayep said that M is still secured in the local police office to avoid the possibility of mass fury.

Because of the incident, not only several Buddhist monasteries and temples were burned, but also three cars, three motorbikes, and one pedicab bike. Fortunately, there were no casualties. “Part of the buildings were burned, because of the praying equipments such as incense and praying papers which are prone to fire. A number of vehicles also got burned,” said Ayep.


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