|Malaysia temple protesters charged|
Twelve Muslims have been charged in Malaysia after parading a severed cow's head in a protest against the planned relocation of a Hindu temple to their neighbourhood.
The 12 were among a group of about 50 people who had marched from a mosque in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor state, located near Kuala Lumpur, to the state chief minister's office last month with the bloodied cow's head.
Twelve of the protesters were charged on Wednesday with illegal assembly and six of them were also charged with sedition.
The act had drawn widespread public condemnation because the animal is considered sacred by Hindus.
Sedition is defined in Malaysia as an acting that may engender "feelings of ill-will and hostility between different races".
Illegal assembly is punishable by a one year in jail and a fine, while sedition is punishable by up to three years in jail and a fine.
On August 28, more than 50 people claiming to be residents of the neighbourhood marched from the state mosque to government offices to protest the relocation of their temple to the area where they live.
The protesters stopped at the gates of the office where they stamped on the cow's head after listening to fiery speeches by their leader.
The court in Shah Alam freed all 12 on bail. No date has been set for the trial, but the case will be heard again on October 21.
According to local officials, five of the six men charged with sedition were residents of the neighbourhood where the 150-year-old temple was to be relocated.
Salehuddin Saldin, a defence lawyer, told the Associated Press news agency that his clients did not intend to offend Hindus, and carried the cow head only as a symbol of the state government's "stupidity".
P Uthayakumar, a prominent Hindu activist, dismissed the argument as "laughable".
"They are clearly inciting the Hindus."
These are partly based on whether enough people of the non-Muslim faith live in the area where the church or temple is to built.
State authorities in Selangor later said that they had found a new site in Shah Alam to build the temple, a few hundred metres from the original site and further away from the local mosque.