Daily Life in the Maluku Islands: Chaos Fear and the Threat of Violence

Christians plead for international monitoring to prevent Jihad raids, and more aid for refugees.

A prominent churchwoman from Indonesia's troubled Maluku islands has declared that brutal attacks on Christians by "Jihad groups sent from outside" are wiping out the Christian community in central east Indonesia."We are still confused, including ordinary Muslims, and ask why this is happening," said the woman, who was interviewed by ENI during a meeting of the executive committee of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, in Bangalore, India. "Please don't use my name," she pleaded with ENI, explaining that the Jihad (fundamentalist Muslim) fighters in the Malukus were preparing lists of prominent Christians for "elimination". Thousands of Muslim fundamentalists trained and armed with automatic guns, had, she said, come from other parts in Indonesia, arriving by sea in the Malukus, once known as Spice Islands. The fundamentalists were driving out Christians, who account for about half of the two million citizens in the islands, one of the strongest Christian areas in Indonesia.The violence has raised concerns in the international community and particularly in ecumenical circles in recent months.The woman told ENI that the Jihad warriors, shouting Islamic slogans, "attack and burn down Christian houses, shops and even entire villages, killing whoever comes in their way"."We had harmonious life between Christians and Muslims till January last year when the trouble started," said the woman from Ambon - the islands' biggest city. The relationship between Christians and Muslims in Malukus, she said, had been based on traditional Pela Gandong culture. (Pela means "swear" and Gandong "from the womb" in local dialect. With this oath, leaders of both communities publicly vowed every year to protect members of the other community ...

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