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Anti-war fury sweeps Indonesia JAKARTA - Demonstrators have hit the streets in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, to protest against US-led attacks on Iraq as clerics savaged President George W Bush in mosque sermons. A senior Western diplomat said the possibility of demonstrations getting out of control worried him the least among several key security concerns in Indonesia because of "the commitment of the Government to make sure that law and order are going to be upheld".
"The Government has made it clear that the demonstrations... are to be peaceful and that they will not tolerate violence and I take them at their word," said the diplomat, who declined to be identified. The biggest of Friday's protests was in the industrial city of Surabaya, where 2,000 people marched. Some pasted signs on a McDonalds outlet, saying the restaurant had been "sealed", one witness said. There were few people inside at the time.
In the West Java capital of Bandung dozens of protesters put similar signs on the windows of several American food outlets, a witness said. Patrons ignored the move and kept eating. There were small rallies in eight other cities, local radio reported. Several hundred demonstrators took to the streets in Jakarta. Muslim students threw tomatoes, other fruit and eggs at the wall of the British embassy.

Sermons

President Megawati Sukarnoputri said on Thursday the Government fiercely opposes the US-led attack on Iraq and called for a special UN Security Council meeting aimed at stopping the war. But speaking at Jakarta's popular Al-Azhar mosque, cleric Anwar Ratnaprawira disputed the line taken by the Government and mainstream Muslim groups that the war is not aimed at Islam.
"We see how the United States is invading Iraq... a superpower attacking a weak country. These people will not stop waging war against Islam," he said. "Oh, God, please help your Muslim followers and punish anyone who is hostile to Islam. I don't like Saddam and his secular party but Muslims are victims of this infidel bombardment."
Some militant groups have threatened to occupy and shut down facilities of the US and allies like Britain and Australia, and engage in "sweeps" in which foreigners are threatened and told to leave the country. But the senior diplomat said given the "ability and obvious will of the Government to provide protection for foreigners in general (and for) diplomatic facilities, and the peaceful nature of the demonstrations to date, we have a fair amount of confidence that we're going to be okay".



Posted in Protests @ 21 March 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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