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Master of Scaremonies
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Police move to protect "mystical tree" from attacks
38 minutes ago

Indonesian police have slapped a cordon around a huge landmark Banyan tree in the capital after members of a Muslim youth group attacked it to prove it had no special mystical powers.

The governor of Jakarta filed a complaint with police after youths hacked and damaged the 100-year-old banyan, on a traffic island in the capital, in a bid to dispel rumors the tree harbored special powers.

"The city government tried hard not to cut the tree when we built a new bus lane. It is more than 100 years old and it is important for the environment," said Susi Marsitawati of Jakarta's park agency.

"But later rumors spread that the government was unable to fell the tree because it has supernatural powers and is sacred," the official said, adding that Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso had filed a complaint with police.

Indonesia is predominantly Muslim, but a strong mystical vein runs through the culture. Whatever their faith, many display a deeply spiritual attitude and follow animist beliefs and various superstitions.

Jeje Zainudin, chairman of the United Islam Youth, said the group had carried out the attack to counter superstitions surrounding the tree.

"It is not a matter of chopping down the tree but this is to counter a popular belief such as if (we) touch it, (we) will get sick or your cleaver will break."
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