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Clashes ensue as Indonesia jails cleric over Covid-19 lies

JAKARTA : It was bad news all round for Indonesia yesterday.

Not only did the country report record Covid-19 infections, it also had to deal with violence from supporters of a hardline Muslim cleric.

There were 20,574 infections yesterday, taking the country's tally to 2,053,995, according to data from the country's Health Ministry.

The data also showed there were 355 new deaths, taking the toll to 55,949.

Meanwhile, Indonesian police fired tear gas and water cannons at supporters of radical cleric Rizieq Shihab, who was jailed yesterday for spreading false information about Covid-19 after he held rallies that drew thousands.

INFECTED

The 55-year-old was handed a four-year jail term for claiming in a viral video that he was healthy, despite knowing that test results showed he may have been infected with the virus.

Thousands rallied outside the courthouse in Jakarta in support of the cleric, whose influential Islamic Defenders Front was banned earlier this year.

The police said they arrested more than 150 demonstrators ahead of the sentencing.

Thursday's ruling comes after the same court in May sentenced Rizieq to eight months' jail for holding sermons and other gatherings that drew tens of thousands of followers, breaking virus restrictions in one of Asia's worst-hit nations.

The charismatic Islamic leader returned to Indonesia last year after fleeing to Saudi Arabia in 2017 after the police named him a suspect in a pornography case. Those charges have since been dropped.- AFP, REUTERS

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