Iraq War news

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Indonesians Protest US-Led Afghanistan,Iraq Wars

Indonesians Protest US-Led Afghanistan,Iraq Wars
JAKARTA, Mar 05, 2006 (Dow Jones Commodities News Select via Comtex) --(Updates with U.S. Embassy comment, fifth paragraph)

Several thousand Muslim demonstrators rallied Sunday in front of the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta to protest the continuing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Hizbut Tahrir, the group organizing the rally, has campaigned for an Islamic state in Indonesia since the 1920s. It predicted that tens of thousands would attend.

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About 2,000 police kept the crowd well away from the U.S. Embassy compound which is ringed by two concrete walls and barbed wire. The mission's main office block is set about 100 meters away from the outer wall, behind a courtyard and parking lot.

"USA out of Iraq," chanted the demonstrators. They also carried placards condemning Israel and a U.S. mining company - New Orleans-based Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (FCX) - which is accused of causing a massive environmental disaster at the site of its Grasberg mine in Papua province.

U.S. Embassy spokesman Max Kwak thanked Indonesian police for helping maintain order, and said he respected the right of Indonesians to freedom of speech and assembly, "two of the pillars of democracy."

Last week, the U.S. mission issued a warning to all Americans to maintain a low profile and to "exercise caution if caught in the vicinity of any demonstrations."

Anti-U.S. sentiments in Indonesia - the world's largest Muslim nation - rose sharply after the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which were marked by frequent demonstrations. But these gradually petered out and the last sizable protest was held in November 2004.

Indonesia is a moderate Islamic country with significant Christian, Hindu and Buddhist minorities. It has a long tradition of secularism, and is seen by Washington as a close ally in the war on terror.

The two nations have had close ties since the mid-1960s when a pro-U.S. military dictatorship seized power in Jakarta. This was replaced by a democratic government in 1999.

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