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HVK Archives: Muslims riot in Jakarta

Muslims riot in Jakarta - The Telegraph

Posted By Ashok V Chowgule (ashokvc@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in)
31 January 1997

Title : Muslims riot in Jakarta
Author :
Publication : The Telegraph
Date : January 31, 1997

Thousands of Muslims took to the streets today, ransacking
churches, banks, shops and cars after a Chinese Christian trader
reportedly insulted Islam, the police and witnesses said.

The police reported no casualties and said the violence was brought
under control after three truckloads of troops armed with automatic
weapons moved into the town of Rengasdengklok, 50 km east of

Police Sgt. Jumhalim said the unidentified Chinese trader sought
police protection after the mob set fire to his home and shop. No
one has been arrested, said Jumhalim, who like many ,Indonesians
uses only one name.

Witnesses told the Associated Press by phone that thousands of
angry Muslims armed with stones and sticks came out of mosques and
homes after the morning prayer and went on a rampage.

Four churches, scores of shops, two banks and a Chinese temple were
ransacked. The mob also stoned and wrecked 18 cars, setting fire to
some of them.

Smoke billowed from one church that was set ablaze, said Joko, a
resident who lived near the church. The troops set up road blocks
on main streets, warning citizens to stay away from the stricken
area, he said.

Joko said the riot was apparently set off by a report that a
Chinese shopkeeper, a Christian, had complained about the loud
prayers at a mosque in the evenings. It was not clear if the
trader actually made the remarks.

The ethnic-religious riot is the latest in a series of clashes in
the past few months between the two communities.

Ethnic Chinese, mostly Christians traders, are by far wealthier
than the vast majority of Muslims in Indonesia. About 90 per cent
of the 200 million population are Islam.

A curfew has been imposed in the area to prevent further outbreaks
of violence, SCTV reported.

"The incident was a spontaneous and was merely caused by
misunderstanding," Lt. Col. Herman Ibrahim, west Java military
command spokesman was quoted as saying by the official Antara news

Yesterday, about 40 masked men ransacked a Catholic group's office
in a remote Indonesian province on Borneo island and set ablaze a
truck and two motorcycles.

Earlier this month, 5,000 indigenous people called Dayaks, who are
mostly Christians, went on the rampage in the same province,
attacking property belonging to Muslims. In December, four people
were killed.

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