10/10/2006, 00.00
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Jakarta: Susilo urges Muslims to refute violence

The appeal was made to all Muslims living in the country. The anti-terrorism chief has warned that the fundamentalist threat is real and present.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Indonesia's president today called on Muslims in the country "to respect the law and not use intimidation and violence". The appeal came amid a spiral of violence carried out in the name of the faith in the world's most populous Islamic nation.

In recent years, Indonesia has been hit by a series of bloody bombings by Jemaah Islamiyah, the local arm of al-Qaeda that has struck "western" targets like churches and embassies.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been harshly criticized for failing to speak out clearly against the violence sweeping away Indonesia's traditions of religious tolerance and moderation.

His appeal was made more urgent by the statement of one leader of the national army, General Ansyaad Mbai, who said today: "Those responsible for the latest attacks against the nation remain a threat, despite the recent arrest of more than 300 members."

The soldier, head of the anti-terrorism services, said during a meeting with the media and Jakarta's diplomatic corps that "stopping some extremist leaders does not mean we have defeated terrorism. The threat is real and present".

Indonesia has more than 220 million residents; around 80% are Muslims but Islam is less radical here than it is in the Middle East. The United States and other western nations continue to support the local government, seen as a border stronghold against terrorism.

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