Monday, November 21, 2005

The Observer | International | Machete killings fuel Indonesia's religious hatred

The Observer | International | Machete killings fuel Indonesia's religious hatred

Jihadists are being blamed for beheading of two Christian schoolgirls, reports Dan McDougall

For peaceful Christians many of them refugees from Poso, the existence of Ninja-clad attackers brings back memories of 2001 when hundreds of masked Muslim men stormed one Christian village after another, firing automatic weapons, tossing petrol bombs and home-made grenades into houses and ordering terrified residents to get out for good. They killed anyone who dared to resist.

‘The people of the world called the beheadings of these girls barbaric,’ says David, a lay preacher in the town. ‘Pope Benedict led prayers in Rome for the safety of Christians here, but few governments have expressed real concern. We are on the verge of another jihad.

‘Almost all the religiously motivated aggression this year has been directed against Christians: schoolgirls murdered as the army turns a blind eye. But the government would rather talk of gangsters, not jihadists, carrying out the attacks. I want to know why most of the weapons carried by these militants are army issue.’

To Christians such as David it is ‘unthinkable’ that the military could have failed to end the attacks. Similar failures can be discerned in other Indonesian hotspots, including Maluku, and the west Kalimantan town of Sambas, where Christians have also been targeted. Claims of army complicity are rife among Christians, who regularly accuse the military of turning a blind eye to the Islamic militia in the area and the smuggling of weapons from the mainland.

Others point to a lack of prosecutions for attacks on Christians and talk darkly of militant training camps in remote valleys, as if to say the next mass slaughter is just around the corner.

And the beat goes on...

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