09/17/2012, 00.00
INDONESIA

Violent protests in Jakarta over Muhammad blasphemy movie

by Mathias Hariyadi
More than a thousand Muslim radicals attack the US Embassy with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails. In North Medan, Bandung and Solo, fast food joints, symbols of US culture, are destroyed. In Jombang (East Java), young Christian activists organise an interfaith group to discuss the situation and condemn the violence.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Protests are mounting around the Indonesia over the blasphemous movie about Muhammad. This morning, a mob of about a thousand people attacked the US Embassy in Jakarta with sticks, stones and Molotov cocktails, including members of the Islamic Defender Front (FPI).

The rally began peacefully but was eventually taken over by extremists groups who attacked police guarding the US diplomatic mission. The authorities arrested four FPI members for possessing weapons and similar paraphernalia.

Police and demonstrators clashed also in North Medan (Sumatra), Bandung (West Java) and Solo (Central Java). Mobs attacked fast-food restaurants, symbols of US culture, including Kentucky Fried Chicken and McDonald's.

In order to counter such extremists, some 50 Christian and Muslim activists in Jombang (East Java) issued a statement slamming the recent acts of violence.

They belong to an interfaith group affiliated with the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), Indonesia's largest (moderate) Muslim organisation, the Indonesian Christian Church (GKI) and some Catholic leaders like Fr Luis from the Diocese of Jombang.

The group's coordinator Aan Anshori said that they began around a table with people from different religious backgrounds, to show Muslims that discussing peacefully was possible.

"If there are any differences among us, it is important to speak to one another peacefully in an atmosphere of friendship and non-violence."

In a press release, the interfaith group said, "The movie is outrageous and should not have been made or shown." However, "Muslims must remain calm because their violent acts hurt Islam's image," said Evik Mustain, head of the Islamic Darul Ulum High Education in Jombang.

 

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