The ethnic tension which has gripped Indonesia for months now shows no signs of abating. Churches and temples were the target of Muslim rioters on Thursday in the third bout of ethnic and religious violence since October. A contributory cause of the latest outbreak may have been the fact that it is the holy month of Ramadan, when 90 per cent of the country's 200 million Muslims fast from dawn until sunset. There is always a heightened atmosphere of tension at this time, but the problems underlying the situation are complex and point to rising public discontent which has found the usual convenient focus in blaming a minority group. While churches and temples have suffered the greatest amount of damage in the past couple of years, business companies run by ethnic Chinese have also been attacked and destroyed, and it appears that the religious component is the engine for racism and envy as the gap becomes wider between rich and poor. President Suharto has acknowledged the growing division in the community, as the country's wealth increases but fails to trickle down to the poorest sectors of society. His government must take measures to reduce economic inequality as a first step to addressing the problems of ethnic and religious disharmony. The violence is getting closer to the capital, and the situation cannot be allowed to get out of hand. Indonesia is a racially mixed society which, despite inevitable tensions, should be enjoying the benefits of its prosperity, rather than being torn apart by hatred and bloodshed.