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Rakyat Merdeka publishes, and removes, cartoons JAKARTA - The simmering controversy over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a number of European media as well as a local newspaper's website ignited protests here Friday. In Jakarta, hundreds of members of the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Indonesian Mujahidin Council (MMI) held a protest against Rakyat Merdeka online on Friday after the website ran the cartoons -- showing the image of the Prophet, which is forbidden in Islam -- earlier this week.

Members of the organizations, who came to office of Rakyat Merdeka in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta, at 10 a.m., demanded the management of the daily publish a public apology on both its website and print edition for running the cartoons, first featured in a Danish newspaper last September. "We want the cartoons to be withdrawn, and Rakyat Merdeka to apologize publicly on both the website and in the newspaper. We also demand that they should be more careful about similar issues in the future," FPI's coordinator Machusuni Kalopo said.

In response, Teguh Santosa, chief editor of www.rakyatmerdeka.co.id, said it had agreed to publish an apology as requested. The Jakarta Police may also take action against the website. Chief of the general crimes unit at the city police Sr. Comr. Moh. Jaelani said the police would determine if the website violated Article 156 of the Criminal Code on religious blasphemy.

FPI members also led a protest at the Danish Embassy in Kuningan, South Jakarta, Reuters reported. The news service said the protesters smashed lamps with bamboo sticks and threw chairs around in anger in the lobby of the building, as well as tearing up the Danish flag. However, Danish Ambassador Niels Erik Andersen said he was satisfied with the security arrangements made by the Jakarta Police.

"We have excellent cooperation with the Jakarta Police. I am personally satisfied with the arrangements made by the police," Ambassador Andersen told The Jakarta Post. He was unhappy with some of the wire service reports of the protest, which he said were inaccurate. "I met with the leaders of the FPI. They demanded an apology. But I explained to them that the Danish daily already apologized to Muslims and gave them copies of translated apology letter and a statement made by our Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen," Andersen said.

"The news agencies reported that I promised an apology. This is not true. Our government has already made it clear that the Danish government will not apologize for a newspaper's work." He was also concerned that reports were being overblown in the tense situation, including in his homeland. "On one of the Danish newspaper websites, it was reported that the Danish Embassy in Jakarta was demolished by protesters. How can you believe this story?" he said.

The Danish government, Andersen said, welcomed the newspaper's apology and appealed for calm and not to issue any statement that will create further tension. Jaelani said proper security measures were in place at the embassy. "We have also increased our personnel at the Danish Embassy to anticipate an increased number of demonstrations because of the cartoons' publication." Local politicians are also stepping into the fray."

"As a predominantly Muslim country, of course we object to the issue. I've expressed the government's indignation to the Danish ambassador here and they have apologized openly," Vice President Jusuf Kalla said Friday. Presidential spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said the Indonesian government strongly condemned the publishing of the carricature and has conveyed its protest to Denmark through its envoy here.

"Indonesia believes that the publishing of the caricature has hurt the feelings of Muslims, and freedom of expression should not be practiced at the expense of any religion," Mallarangeng said. However, on the protest at the embassy Friday, he quoted President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as saying that such demonstrations must be held according to the law.

The images where it's all about
The 12 images where these protests are all about, can be found on the forum:
Asian muslims vow new cartoon protests as anger spreads





Posted in Protests @ 04 February 2006 11:04 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink





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