Teenager arrested for vandalizing mosque with anti-Islamic graffiti

Police in Tangerang Regency arrested an 18-year-old male for allegedly vandalizing a musalla (small mosque) in his neighborhood with graffiti containing anti-Islamic messages.

The suspect, identified by his initial S, allegedly entered the musalla when it was empty in the afternoon before he spray painted the messages “Anti-Islam” and “Anti-caliphate” while also crossing out the Arabic writing for Allah (God) on the walls and on the floor. S also allegedly ripped out pages of the Quran in the musalla.

Worshippers who came for afternoon prayers were shocked to see the musalla vandalized and filmed the damage, a video of which quickly went viral online and triggering widespread outrage. Local police were soon alerted to the crime and arrested S, who lives some 50 meters away from the musalla, at his house at around 7:30pm.

“The culprit has been arrested. We are carrying out an investigation,” Tangerang Regency Police Chief Ade Ari Syam Indardi told reporters yesterday.

S confessed to vandalizing the musalla, but the police have yet to establish his motives. The college student will also be subject to a mental health evaluation, which is standard procedure before any criminal charges can be filed.

The mosque has been restored to its original state with the graffiti having been painted over. 

Blasphemy is a serious crime in Indonesia, punishable by up to five years in prison. A similar case took place in Bogor last year, when a woman was deemed to have defiled a mosque by bringing her dog into the house of worship, but she was acquitted after the court ruled that she was mentally unstable.

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