On January 19, 1999, as the month of Ramadan, the holiest time in the Muslim calendar, was coming to a close, a fight broke out in the Batu Merah neighborhood in Ambon City between a Christian minibus driver and one or more Bugis Muslim youths. The immediate circumstances of the fight remain unclear. One of the Muslim youths involved may have been the bus conductor, charged with collecting passengers and fares for a Bugis Muslim owner, or he may have been a petty thug, one of many from either religious group, extorting drivers for loose change. Regardless, it was not an extraordinary event. Scuffles had been common occurrences around the rough and tumble bus stations and busy markets in Ambon when I was there in the 1980s and 1990s. But by the late 1990s, the context in which they occurred, if not their frequency, was changing. Ethnic tensions freighted with religious overtones were running high, exacerbated by the lingering economic crisis that began two years earlier and by a half century of in-migration of mostly Muslim Butonese, Bugis, and Makassarese from Sulawesi that was upsetting, at least in the opinion of Christians, the relative demographic and political balance that once existed between them and native Ambonese Muslims.1 As a result, in hindsight, disagreements over such trivial matters as bus fares had the potential to tap a deeper discontent and spread to the broader community. When the fighting began, one attack fed another, increasing in ferocity with the spread of more lethal weapons and loss of life. By 2003, with deaths numbering in the thousands and as many as 700,000 people displaced from their homes in the provinces of Maluku and North Maluku, the foundations of civil life had been destroyed.