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12 Malaysian Muslims punished over cow head protest

world Updated: Jul 27, 2010 20:34 IST

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A Malaysian court today sentenced a Muslim man to one week's jail and 11 others were fined after they severed a cow's head and paraded it while protesting the relocation of a Hindu temple.

The twelve Muslim men were part of group - which brought a cow's head to the gate of the State Secretariat building on August 28 last year -- protesting the relocation of a 150-year-old Sri Maha Mariamman Hindu temple to their neighbourhood.

The protesters had shocked the minority Hindu community when some of them paraded with a severed cow's head and also stomped and spat on it while making fiery speeches.

It had stoked tensions among Malaysia's three main ethnic groups - the Malay Muslim majority and Chinese and Indian minorities, most of them Hindus.

They were earlier charged under the Sedition Act.

They have pleaded guilty to a charge of illegal assembly and fined 14,000 rupees (1000 ringgit) each or a month's jail in default by a Sessions Court here.

Judge Hasbi Hasan fined the 12 men after they pleaded guilty to committing the offence at the State Secretariat building on August 28 last year.

Two of the men were also fined RM 3,000 each for a sedition charge, one of whom was sentenced to a week in jail as well. Four others on the same sedition charge were given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal.

The 12 were identified as Ahmad Mahayuddin Abd Manaf, 36, Ibrahim Sabri, 43, Eyzva Ezhar Ramly, 31, Mohd Azmir Mohd Zain, 35, Ahmad Suhairy Zakaria, 30, Mohd Hilmi Ni, 40,Jainuddin Zainuddin Md Yusuff, 67, Mohd Jurit Ramli, 39, Mohamad Nordin Zakaria, 46, Jamil Mohamad Isa, 40, Rahimuddin Md Harun, 39, and Azhari Shaari, 39.

Authorities in Selangor state, which surrounds the capital Kuala Lumpur, eventually found a new site to build the controversial temple.

However, many Hindus were not satisfied with the penalties accorded to them.

"The sentences seem to be very light after the huge commotion and the insult," A. Vaithilingam, a Malaysian Hindu religious leader, was quoted as saying in the media.