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25 August 2008

Christian College in Indonesia Will Relocate After Violent Attacks

Attacks on their campus have forced students at a Christian college in Indonesia’s capital to take refuge in tents and in the lobby of the parliament building for

nearly a month, while the theology school has agreed to relocate out of a predominantly Muslim neighborhood, the Associated Press reported.

The first assaults on the Arastamar Evangelical School of Theology, which is also known as Seta College, took place on July 25, when residents of the neighborhood in Jakarta entered the campus with machetes and Molotov cocktails. Eighteen students were injured in the clashes, and administrators evacuated the five dormitories after a second night of attacks.

Relations between the 1,400-student school and its neighbors have been tense since 2003, as local residents have complained about loud singing and prayers coming from the campus. This summer, tensions escalated over reports of petty thefts by students, including a pet bird. But some observers suspect that local property developers, who have been trying to buy the 20-year-old campus, are behind the attacks.

Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country, has traditionally tolerated minority religions. But recently, radical groups have attacked churches and even mosques that oppose a hard-line doctrine.

The school’s administrators have agreed to move the campus to a small office building in another part of Jakarta. —Martha Ann Overland

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