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10/09/2019 Indonesia (International Christian Concern) – The deteriorating situation in West Papua, as residents continue to protest against racism and call for a referendum on independence from Indonesia, gave some radical Muslims an idea: It’s time for Jihadis to go and fight the West Papuans, who are mostly Christians.

Dozens have been killed since the unrest started in August. Ten of thousands also have fled Wamena amid fear of further violent attacks following deadly unrest that broke out late last month.

Against this backdrop, Front Jihad Islam, or FJI, issued a call to arms in the Indonesia-ruled Papuan provinces after non-Papuan settlers were among the victims of recent violence there, according to Radio New Zealand.

FJI has been actively spreading its message online, replete with recorded torching of the Papuan Morning Star Flag and banners, calling for Jihadis to be recruited for fighting in Papua against Papuans.

This concerns Saiful Islam Payage, the head of Papua’s chapter of the Ulema Council, Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body.

“I am very worried. So, I strongly forbid the Laskar who are in the name of religion for war or jihad in Papua,” he said.

For now, the threat is not seen as major since no cleric of significant influence had called for jihadis in Papua yet, Harsono said. The Indonesian military and police personnel were also on hand to provide security in Wamena and other towns in a region where the population was predominantly Christian.

West Papua has a long history of conflicts with Jakarta, given its deep divide between the Papuans, who are Melanesians, and the Muslim majority Indonesians. Many Papuans don’t see themselves as Indonesians and are upset about the peripheral treatment of Indonesian government. It’s the poorest province in the country and lacks many resources and infrastructure.

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator: [email protected].