chapter  1
14 Pages

The study of violent communal conflict

This book seeks to account for the bloodshed and destruction in North Maluku from 1999 to 2000. It explores why violence broke out in a region which had seen decades of peaceful coexistence between ethnic and religious communities. It also seeks to explain the trajectory of the conflict: why it transformed from a local dispute into religious violence; how and why the initial incident sparked death and mayhem across an entire province; and, finally, why it ended as abruptly as it had begun. Within these primary foci are several secondary, yet crucial questions. The study examines what motivated those involved and how organized the violence was. It asks whether religion and religious identity played a major role in the violence. It seeks to explain how such devastation could happen in a state which for generations had harshly prevented large-scale domestic disturbances, as well as where responsibility lies for this tragedy.