Religious Tensions Inflamed

October 20, 2006

Author: John M. Glionna

Source: Los Angeles Times

After the government executed three Christians, many in divided nation wonder if Muslims convicted in Bali bombings will meet same fate: An eye for an eye in Indonesia?

Maringan Simanjuntak wipes his brow in Bali's equatorial heat and talks in measured words about the fear and frustration of being Christian in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Last month, Indonesia executed three Christians for inciting a mob that killed scores of Muslims six years ago in central Sulawesi province. The executions led to widespread Christian violence across the area, where religious tensions have simmered for years.

Now Simanjuntak and the rest of the nation anxiously await another execution. This time, three Islamic militants face death by firing squad for their roles in the 2002 Bali bombing that killed 202 people here in a crowded Denpasar tourist bar.

The 46-year-old tour guide wants an eye for an eye. But he doesn't expect to see the Bali bombers die: The Muslim-led government, he insists, takes care of its own.