Moluccas Strife Has Political Roots, Says Bishop

He Doesn’t See It as a Religious Conflict

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

JAKARTA, Indonesia, APRIL 28, 2004 ( Politics rather than religion lies at the roots of the conflict that erupted again this week in the Molucca Islands, says the bishop of Ambon.

«I am not so sure about it being an interreligious confrontation» between Muslims and Christians, Bishop Pietro Mandagi told the AsiaNews agency.

«Better to say that the confrontations taking place are between a group that supports the integrity of the Indonesian territory and a group of separatists that wants to revive the South Moluccas Republic and the Sovereignty Moluccas Front,» said the bishop of the Moluccas capital in the Indonesia archipelago.

On Sunday, the Sovereignty Moluccas Front staged a rally to mark the 54th anniversary of the failed independence bid of the South Moluccas Republic. The bishop said some groups used the rally as the moment to spread terror and violence.

«I don’t know what their objective is by sparking this brutal tragedy,» Bishop Mandagi said. Four days of violence have left 36 dead and more than 150 wounded.

Arson has destroyed hundreds of homes and reduced to ashes the Nazareth Protestant Church and the recently restored Indonesian Christian University Muluku, destroyed four years ago during similar confrontations, AsiaNews reported.

According to the agency of the Pontifical Foreign Missionary Works, some political analysts in Jakarta see behind the Ambon confrontations a «grand strategy» among high military personnel to stir up trouble before the July 5 presidential elections.

«They make trouble, rioting, in order to ensure that only a president with a military background will be able to address the problems,» a source speculated.

Yet, the confrontations are also fueling religious tensions, said AsiaNews. On Tuesday, thousands of Muslims of Solo, central Java, organized a protest in support of Ambon’s Muslims.

Christian and Muslim religious leaders have condemned the violence, which is taking place in the aftermath of a similar conflict that broke out between 1999 and 2002, which left more than 5,000 dead.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation