Source: One News Now
Authorities in West Papua, Indonesia, must move fast to prevent tension between Christian and Muslim communities escalating into a Malukan-style conflict, according to a recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG). The neighboring Maluku islands erupted into bitter sectarian warfare between 1999 and 2002, leaving thousands dead, injured or homeless.
While the conflict in West Papua dates back to Indonesia’s takeover of the region in 1963, several developments from the beginning of the decade have heightened tension in recent months, according to ICG’s June 16 report, “Communal Tensions in Papua.” New, less tolerant strands of Islam and Christianity have gained influence since 2002, creating fissures within and between religious communities, the report claims. Also, faith issues have acquired a political dimension, since many Papuan Christians believe a Special Autonomy Law passed in 2001 was too limited, while Muslim migrants firmly support centralized rule from Jakarta and accuse Christians of separatism. Most importantly, an influx of Muslim migrants, initially sponsored by the government, has changed demographics in the region, with Papuan Christians now fearing they will become a minority.