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Some 150 school-age girls and their relatives staged a protest Friday at an Islamic boarding school in Surabaya, demanding justice against a senior cleric for allegedly sexually abusing 25 female students.

 

Protesters thronged the school’s compound from 8:30 a.m., preventing local Muslims from performing Friday prayers at the school’s Nurullah grand mosque. The mosque was sealed off two months ago at the request of residents of Kedung Rukem IV subdistrict, south of the city, following an uproar over a sexual harassment case centered on Kyai As’ad Syukur Fauzanni.

Friday’s demonstration was staged after students’ relatives learned the mosque would be reopened with a fast-breaking gathering and the distribution of Idul Fitri gifts to students.

“This mosque must be closed permanently. No one should be allowed to pray in an obscenely infected mosque where several children were raped. The indecent cleric must be punished harshly,” one protester shouted.

Dozens of riot police were on guard outside the mosque.

Roni, a local resident, said the protesters would not allow the mosque to be reopened while a police investigation into the claims of rape was not yet started.

The protesters dispersed after a dialogue with police.

Maisaroh (not her real name), an 11-year-old student, said she had been fondled and kissed by As’ad on several occasions during her two years at the boarding school.

“I was embraced tightly and kissed, and it happened many times between July 2007 and March 2008,” she told The Jakarta Post.

She said she only told her parents after learning that other students had also been sexually assaulted by As’ad, a highly respected cleric. In June this year, the victims’ parents filed a complaint with the police

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