Sunday, September 16, 2012

Indonesian police boost security at embassies

The Jakarta Police are increasing security at embassies in the Indonesia's capital as local Muslims join protests over a low-budget anti-Muslim film that has fuelled anti-US sentiment in the Islamic world.

Hundreds of members of Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia (HTI) rallied in front of the US Embassy after prayers on Friday, blasting the US government for allowing the production of the film, Innocence of Muslims, which they said offended Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

"Anyone who offends the Prophet, whether he is Muslim or not, should be punished," HTI spokesman Muhammad Ismail Yusanto said.

The police deployed 300 officers to safeguard the embassy during the protest.

"The rally started at 1:45 p.m. with around 200 people, mostly women and children, joining," Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said.

Anti-US sentiment has continued to persist in Indonesia, despite Washington's efforts to boost relations with Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority nation and an important part of the US' new "pivot" toward Asia.

Jakarta Police chief Untung S. Rajab said that police were bracing for more protests at embassies.

"Security will be intensified. We have asked officers on duty at the embassies to increase their vigilance," he said.

Rajab declined to specify how many additional officers would be deployed to secure potential protests.

Meanwhile, requests from the government to YouTube to block access to the film's trailer apparently went unheeded as of Friday.

Friday's protest was not the first against the defamation of Muhammad in recent years.

In 2006, hundreds of men from the hard-line Islam Defenders Front (FPI) attacked the US embassy during a rally accusing Washington of masterminding the Danish cartoon controversy, hurling stones and traffic cones at the windows of embassy security posts.

In 2008, the HTI and the FPI also held rallies in front of the Dutch embassy to protest the release of "Fitna", an anti-Islam short film made by Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders.-Asia News Network (September 16, 2012)

No comments: