BEIJING (Reuters) - China on Monday executed two members of a banned religious cult, a father and his daughter, for murdering a woman in a McDonald’s restaurant after she rebuffed an apparent recruitment attempt by the group, state media said.
The 37-year-old woman, surnamed Wu, was attacked last May in the eastern province of Shandong by members of the Church of Almighty God, which had preached that a global apocalypse would take place in 2012.
The case sparked a national outcry after it was revealed that Wu was beaten to death for refusing to give her telephone number to members of the group.
Zhang Fan and her father, Zhang Lidong, were put to death after the Supreme Court approved their sentence, the official Xinhua news agency said, adding that the two had been allowed to meet family members before being executed.
In earlier reports state media said Zhang Fan and another cult member had called Wu an “evil spirit” and the group beat, kicked, and stamped on her head until she died on the spot.
The group, which originated in central Henan province, believes that Jesus was resurrected as Yang Xiangbin, wife of the sect’s founder, Zhao Weishan, according to previous Xinhua reports.
In 2012, China launched a crackdown on the group, which called for a “decisive battle” to slay the “Red Dragon” Communist Party, and preached that the world would end that year.
The party brooks no challenge to its rule and is obsessed with social stability. It has cracked down on cults, which have multiplied in recent years. Demonstrations have been put down with force and some sect leaders executed.
In 1999, then-President Jiang Zemin launched a campaign to crush the Falun Gong religious group. It was banned as an “evil cult” after thousands of practitioners staged a surprise but peaceful sit-in outside the leadership compound in Beijing to demand official recognition of their movement.
Reporting by Sui-Lee Wee; Editing by Ben Blanchard and Clarence Fernandez