chapter
Introduction
Pages 14

Behind a mosque in the remote coastal village of Kao in North Maluku, eastern Indonesia, there lies a large stone grave. The remains of seven warriors rest inside the tomb, all members of the Kao ethnic group who died in a clash with Dutch soldiers in the first decade of the twentieth century. The gravesite holds special significance for Kaos. It is the resting place for both Christians and Muslims, a symbol for the Kaos over the past century of their strong ethnic solidarity, regardless of religious differences. For most of the twentieth century this concord was also representative of the North Maluku community as a whole. In 1999, however, this society, which had long prided itself on inter-religious harmony, descended into bloody religious war.