Timorese Foreign Minister and Nobel peace prize winner Jose Ramos Horta warned yesterday that God could punish Australia if the country refused to a fair divide of the contested oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea, Mark Baker of Australian daily The Age, reports. “‘I’ve asked the God Almighty that one day He will do justice if they don’t recognise our rights,'” Horta told reporters. “‘Who knows, one day God will dry up completely the sea where they are operating, like happened in the Bible.'” Missing from Baker’s report is any context for such a religious threat, or a consideration of the David-and-Goliath language that has also characterized much media coverage of the dispute. Read more recent news and historical context for East Timor:
–The country’s largely (93%) Christian population and former occupation by the predominately Muslim Indonesia;
–Muslim suspicions that this religious difference influenced the UN’s reaction to the problem;
–Horta’s stated disapproval, last month, of the manipulation of religion for political ends;
–Osama bin Laden’s inclusion of Australians in East Timor among other Western “Crusaders”;
–Plus the rising anti-Australian sentiment credited for the recent flight of an Australian businessman, escaping an angry Timorese crowd, and the attempt underway to deport an Australian journalist investigating the gas and oil dispute.