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Indonesia’s Seram Island in Maluku Region Tense After Riots

ICC Note:

A Christian teacher’s comment that agitated one of his students evolved into several days of rioting. Dozens of homes, shops and places or worship have been damaged or destroyed. The teacher and the student are both being considered “suspects,” and the teacher could be charged with up to five years in prison for his comment.

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12/11/08 Indonesia (AC) According to sources with forces in the province of Maluku, Indonesia has sent in hundreds of police and military elite units in order to keep control after several days of rioting between Muslim and Christian citizens. The riots were sparked when a Christian teacher allegedly spoke very negatively about the prophet Mohammed.

In the latest riots literally dozens of homes, shops and places of worship have been damaged seriously or destroyed.

The police have named two suspects in the disturbances. The first being the female teacher said to have defamed the Prophet and the second the trouble maker from the Islamic side that reportedly heated up the situation that led to the rioting. The two have been charged under different ordinances with the teacher possibly facing a maximum time of incarceration up to five years. The man accused of inflaming feelings and thus of instigating the riots could face up to six years in prison for charges he faces.

Authorities have refused to release exact details of what the teacher is alleged to have said because they see no good reason to further release such details which will be openly discussed at future hearings relevant to the charges facing the teacher.

Nongovernmental sources in Seram and other parts of Maluku report that the situation is still quite tense with residents on both sides of the disturbances “on edge” and still trying to deal mentally with the recurrence of problems that many had thought were a thing of the past. Local residents in many communities had posted their own security guards to protect property from further damage and destruction.

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