Sulawesi in Indonesia has always been a hotbed of Christian-Muslim conflicts since the days of the Dutch colonialists. The Dutch encouraged their missionaries to convert hill-tribe animists into Protestants, hopefully, to be employed as as allies against coastal Muslim Sultanates should the need arise.The local Christians identified themselves as Pamona.
There were battles between those two groups through the years. Eventually the Christians settled in the north and hill areas, while the Muslims domiciled themselves in the south and valleys. A wobbly stage of equilibrium came about.
President Suharto's transmigration strategy unwittingly f**ked the finely balanced Christian-Muslim situation in Sulawesi. In his two-fold bid to settle large tracts of sparsely-populated land outside Java, as well as to relieve Java (including Madura) as the island with the heaviest population density in the world, he accelerated his nation's transmigration programme in 1973 that saw waves of Javanese and Madurese, mainly Muslims, sent, sometimes forcefully, to the far reaches of the Indonesian archipelago including Sulawesi and Kalimantan (Borneo Island).
Such transmigration resulted in large influx of ethnically and religiously different communities into regions where locals/indigenous natives invariably reacted with anger to the new 'introduced' problems, alien culture, competition and 'disturbances'.
Sh*t was bound to happen sooner or later. In 2001 Kalimantan had serious ethnic conflicts between Madurese migrants and the Kalimantan indigenous Ibans. The latter resorted to their ancient warrior skills to strike terror into the migrants. Thousands perished.
Since Suharto fell in 1998, and Indonesia saw the Muslim intellectuals like Habibie and Abdurrahman Wahid (Gus Dur) as presidents and also others like Yusuf Kalla (current Vice President), Akbar Tanjung and Amien Rais on the rise, the military's previous forceful suppression of religious conflicts in favour of Indonesian nationalism started to falter. The Christian-Muslim acrimony in Sulawesi became worse, with even Javanese Muslims travelling there to aid their co-religionists in their fights.
Sulawesi has been a regular arena for ferocious battles between the Christians and the Muslims, with the military seemingly unwilling or unable to intervene. Over a thousand has been killed since Suharto stepped down.
The latest atrocity is sickening, with three schoolgirls beheaded while on their way to school - yes, just teenage schoolgirls. It doesn't matter which religion they belonged to - they were just young innocent girls.
The atrocity makes me sick. Those murderers have no balls to take it up with their equal match but instead picked on those poor teenagers.