Muslims and Christians Violently Clash in Indonesia
When will the growing war against Christians by some militant muslims ver end?
It seems as if Muslims are at war with Christians throughout the whole world. On the very day that Americans commemorated the 10th anniversary of the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor, ethnic and sectarian violence broke out between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, an island in the Maluku archipelago, a province of Indonesia.
Map of Indonesia and the Maluku archipelago
KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - It seems as if Muslims are at war with Christians throughout the whole world. On the very day that Americans commemorated the 10th anniversary of the worst attack on U.S. soil since Pearl Harbor, ethnic and sectarian violence broke out between Christians and Muslims in Ambon, an island in the Maluku archipelago, a province of Indonesia.
The Maluku Islands, also know as the Moluccas, are a chain of islands roughly below Southeast Asia and above Australia. For centuries, the Maluku Islands were famous for their spices. Muslim traders became interested in the Moluccas in late 14th century, about the time that the Chinese lost interest in their maritime adventures and pulled out of the area.
The Portuguese discovered the Moluccas in the early 16th century. By the 1590's there were approximately 60,000 Christians on Ambon, though Muslims dominated the wider region. The Spanish and Dutch arrived at the beginning of the 17th century. And Saint Francis Xavier spent a couple of years evangelizing the people of Ambon. During War II, the Japanese occupied the Moluccas. Shortly after the war, in 1949, they unwillingly became part of Indonesia, which is the most densely populated Muslim country in the world.
Then in the 1960's large numbers of Muslim Indonesians migrated to the Moluccas. This migration resulted in ethnic and religious tensions. Sectarian violence between Christians and Muslims erupted throughout the islands in 1999, with periodic outbreaks continuing until 2004. The violence resulted in the death of thousands of people, the destruction of thousands of homes, and the displacement of about half a million people.
According to a report by Asia News on September 12, 2011, Christians and Muslims have clashed in Ambon again. This latest round of violence has left three dead and about 60 wounded. Apparently, the violence was triggered by a rumor which spread during the funeral of a Muslim man named Darkin Saimen. Aisa News reported that Saimen's death was accidental. He died when he lost control while driving his motorcycle and crashed into a house. But the rumor was that Saimen was attacked by a group of Christians.
Even though an autopsy did not show any signs of an attack, the rumor was enough to ignite old hatreds between the two groups. A mob of Muslims reportedly set fire to several Christian homes. The police arrived at the scene and fired shots. A teacher, Djefry Siahaan, was hit in the stomach by a stray bullet. A student, Cliford Belegur, was also hit by a stray bullet and killed.
Political leaders from Jakarta have held special meetings in a effort to quell the violence and prevent escalations. The discussions are considered very delicate. In an apparent effort to prevent further sectarian violence, leaders are downplaying references to the sectarian nature of the violence and calling it a clash between people belonging to different "factions."
This past Sunday the Gospel reading was Matthew 18:21-35. Peter asked Jesus how often we must forgive our brother's sins. Jesus responded with a parable about an ungrateful servant who was forgiven a huge debt by his master but refused to forgive a much smaller debt owed him from a fellow servant. When the master heard what his servant had done, he turned the ungrateful servant over to torturers until he should pay the whole debt. After telling the parable, Jesus said, "So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives your brother from your heart."
I am also reminded of something that Sandy Dahl said. Her husband, Jason Dahl, was a pilot on United Airlines, flight 93, the hijacked jet that crashed in a rural Pennsylvania field on 9/11. Sandy said, "If we learn nothing else from this tragedy, we learn that life is short and there is no time for hate."
In his encyclical God Is Love, Pope Benedict reminds us that hatred and violence in the world are related to a false notion of God and love. We need to pray that people around the world are open to the truth contained in these words before it is too late.
Michael Terheyden was born into a Catholic family, but that is not why he is a Catholic. He is a Catholic because he believes that truth is real, that it is beautiful and good, and that the fullness of truth is in the Catholic Church. However, he knows that God's grace operating throughout his life is the main reason he is a Catholic. He is greatly blessed to share his faith and his life with his beautiful wife, Dorothy. They have four grown children and three grandchildren.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Muslims, Christians, Ambon, Maluku archipelago, Moluccas, Indonesia, Obama, Michael Terheyden
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Asia Pacific News
- Chinese hackers gained valuable information in Google breech years ago
- Savage and Deadly, Cyclone Mahasen batters Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, moves into India
- Indian families go to drastic measures to protect daughters from rape
- Organ Trafficking: Indian family says their young daughter was killed for organ harvesting
- NK's Kim Jong-Un appoints THIRD army chief in less than two years
- Astonishing miracle in the heinous Bangladesh building collapse: 'God is so merciful!'
- Children as young as five years old forced to work in India's coal mines
- China deals major financial blow to Kim Jong Un
- Five killed in sharp, violent volcanic eruption in the Philippines
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?