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Saturday, Sep 25, 2021
Outlook.com

Divisions In Java

Radical Muslims torch churches, fanning communal tension

Divisions In Java
Divisions In Java
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

THE year ended on a sombre note in Indonesia. The country's third and most serious religious riot of 1996—on December 26 in the West Java town of Tasikmalaya—has renewed anxieties about civil peace and provides fresh fodder for the ever active political conspiracy theorists.

In Tasikmalaya, on the day after Christmas, Muslim rioters burned down four churches, two hotels and four banks, as well as shopping malls, dozens of automobiles and shops owned by members of Indonesia's ethnic Chinese minority. The next day, soldiers were deployed to restore order. According to some reports, though, the troops guarded only government buildings, leaving churches and commercial areas unprotected.

Precise details about what prompted the riots are still not available. On the surface, the riots seem to have been expressions of religious bigotry and economic resentment against the relatively prosperous ethnic Chinese, many of whom are Christians. By law, every Indonesian must declare himself an adherent to one of four religions: Islam,...

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