Man falsely accused of theft beaten to death in Indonesian mosque, 10 arrested

Locals in Gowa regency beating a man who was falsely accused of theft in a mosque. Photo: Video screengrab from Twitter
Locals in Gowa regency beating a man who was falsely accused of theft in a mosque. Photo: Video screengrab from Twitter

Police in the Gowa regency of South Sulawesi province have named 10 people suspects in the brutal mob justice murder of a 23-year-old college student named Muhammad Khaidir, who authorities say was falsely accused of theft.

According to the police, last Monday, Khaidir wanted to pray in the mosque but found that its door was locked. He then went to knock on the door of the house next door, belonging to a tailor, who, suspicious that Khaidir could be a criminal, snuck out through the back door of his house and went to the mosque to warn the caretaker, a man identified by the initials RDN.

RDN then used the mosque’s loudspeaker to warn the neighborhood about a thief lurking in the area. Unaware that the warning was about him, Khaidir then went to the mosque to pray, only to find that a mob of angry locals were already waiting for him, some of whom were wielding sharp and blunt objects.

“The cry [over the mosque loudspeaker] was that there was a thief, but nothing was stolen. This was what triggered the locals to commit this violent action,” Gowa Police Chief Shinto Silitonga told Detik today.

The mob then ganged up on and brutally beat Khaidir inside the mosque. Somebody even filmed Khaidir lying on the floor while locals continue to beat him, footage of which went viral online.

The police believe that Khaidir died from the numerous fatal injuries he sustained during the beating, which include gash wounds from a machete.

Ten suspects have been arrested, including the tailor and the mosque caretaker, but police say it’s possible that more will be arrested soon. All of the suspects, except for one 18-year-old boy, are reportedly still in police custody and may face at least 12 years in prison for murder.

Cases of horrific mob violence are not that rare in Indonesia, and stories of alleged thieves being beaten to death have made many headlines in the past (though rarely have they led to arrests or serious punishments for the vigilantes). One of the most brutal incidents in recent years was that of a man who was beaten and burned alive after he was accused of stealing loudspeakers from a mosque in Bekasi, West Java.

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