At least 60 workers have been put out of work after Islamic militants mistakenly attacked what they believed was the construction site of a new church. In the latest outbreak of religious intolerance in West Java, an angry mob of men, women and children first ransacked and then set fire to the building in Cibeureum, Bogor district. The building was being built on land owned by the Christian Education BPK Penabur. The company’s offices and two vehicles were also trashed.
Locals told the Jakarta Globe on Wednesday that the mob were not from the village but from villages about 15 kilometers from the site. Food stall owner Juju said she was saddened by the incident because the construction workers were her main customers.
“I feel sad, especially for the workers, now all of them have to go,” Juju said.
Her stall and three others located near the site were badly damaged in the attack. “I was fortunate enough that people helped me relocate to my brother’s house,” she said.
Juju catered for 60 workers daily at the site, which was paid by BPK Penabur. She said she did not know any of the rioters. “Some people here also worked at the site. It doesn’t matter to us whether it’s a Catholic school or not,” she added.
Police, who failed to protect the property, were guarding the scene of the attack, albeit a day after the violence. A local official also told the Jakarta Globe that there was a letter from the Indonesian Ulama Association (MUI) demanding that the construction be halted prior to the attack. Rewindinar, spokeswoman for BPK Penabur, said the building on the 29,000-square-meter piece of land was intended “as a meeting or gathering place for the foundation.” Both Rewindinar and the police suspected the misunderstanding was caused by the foundation’s name, which is mostly associated with churches or schools. According to SCTV, police re currently questioning a number of witnesses and plan to hold a meeting between locals and representatives of the company.(IM)