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Calm after Indonesian anti-U.S. protest withers

Police feared violence Monday, but only 500 gathered for a peaceful demonstration outside the embassy
Police feared violence Monday, but only 500 gathered for a peaceful demonstration outside the embassy  

JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Around 200 members of an Indonesian radical Islamic group staged a vigil outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta early Tuesday.

Handing out pamphlets calling for a holy war against the U.S., the supporters of the Defenders of Islam group were all that remained after 500 demonstrators peacefully answered a call for "all Muslims" to besiege the embassy Monday.

The streets of the Indonesian capital were quiet Tuesday but a heavy security presence was visible. Troops patrolled streets and extra security surrounded the embassy.

Water cannons and police troops were placed outside the U.S. ambassador's residence.

The high security alert was made after the FPI called for all Muslim Indonesians to rally at the embassy over the U.S.-led strikes on Afghanistan.

Forty armored vehicles were positioned near the gates of the embassy following the call.

Holy war call

CNN's Atika Shubert has more on threats against Americans in Indonesia (October 8)

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Indonesia's largest militant group, the Jihad Army, threatened to attack Americans as part of a "jihad" or holy war following the strikes.

"This shows that the U.S. is clearly a nation that has made an enemy of Islam and this is a very dangerous position for America," said Ja'far Umar Thalib the head of Jihad Army on Monday.

"God willing, this will raise the worldwide solidarity of the Islamic people, especially the Islamic people of Indonesia, in facing America as the biggest enemy of the Islamic people," he said.

Muslim groups in Indonesia say they have a list of 2,000 Americans and have threatened "to sweep" them in retaliation for the U.S.-led operations in Afghanistan.

"We ask Megawati to sever diplomatic ties with the U.S. and her allies. If not, we will oust her," said Mohamad Novval , secretary general of Laskar Hizbullah.

Stay calm

In its first statement since the attacks, the Indonesian government urged the coalition to limit strikes and try to avoid hurting and killing innocent people.

The government also called on Indonesians to stay calm in the wake of brewing violence against American nationals by militant Islamic groups in Indonesia.

"The government of Indonesia calls for the Indonesian people not to overreact in expressing their and sympathy towards the suffering of the Afghanistan people and not to engage in activities that are violating the laws and may disturb security and public order," said Indonesia's Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda.

Indonesia's top security minister Bambang Yudhoyono echoed his calls, saying the government would crack down on those who broke the law.

"We will no tolerate any action that is perceived as threatening the lives and security of foreign nationals," he said.

'Uncertain stance'

Indonesia's largest Muslim group, the 40-million strong Nahdlatul Ulama, also urged Indonesians not to target foreign nationals.

"Indonesian citizens, whoever they are, must never take over the state's right to take care of foreigners. [They] should not be harmfully treated," NU chief Hasyim Muzadi told Reuters.

But Muzadi was critical of the government's stand on the attacks in Afghanistan saying it did not send a clear message.

"[It was] an unclear, uncertain stance. Our [Indonesia's] principle should be world peace without taking sides nor using double standards," he said.

Indonesia is the world's largest Islamic country under a secular government. More than 80 percent of Indonesia's 210 million people are Muslim.

Rising radicalism has overshadowed Indonesia's moderate Muslim majority, allowing more militant groups to voice their opinions.


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