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Thursday, 27 September, 2001, 13:04 GMT 14:04 UK
Anti-US rally raises Jakarta tension
Indonesian Muslim protesters
Muslim protesters shouted "jihad" outside the embassy
More than 1,000 Muslim protesters have rallied outside the US embassy in Jakarta, as some American diplomats prepared to leave Indonesia.

[The police] have not been prepared to act... when there are threats against the lives of Americans

Ambassador Robert Gelbard
The US Government has authorised the voluntary evacuation of non-essential staff after threats by radical Islamic groups to attack American citizens and facilities in Indonesia if the US launches military strikes against Afghanistan.

The decision to allow diplomats to leave comes a day after the US State Department warned Americans to stay away from Indonesia.

Image of George Bush labelled
Demonstrators burned US and Israeli flags and images of George Bush labelled "Satan"
US Ambassador Robert Gelbard said on Thursday Indonesia's police had not moved against activists who have vowed to kill him and attack the embassy.

"They have not been prepared to act, to warn or to arrest people who break the law when there are threats against the lives of Americans," he said.

Jakarta's police chief Sofyan Yacob later said no one had yet broken any law.

Muslim protesters

Outside the heavily-guarded embassy building, demonstrators burned US flags and an effigy of President Bush.

Indonesian police outside US embassy
Indonesian police have stepped up security but the ambassador said it was not enough
Reports say the protests were organised by a group calling itself the Indonesian Party of Liberation.

Banners described the US as "the Big Satan", and called for a jihad, or holy war, against US military and political interests if Afghanistan is attacked.

However, some protesters made it clear they were not targeting US civilians.

Several extremist Muslim organisations have previously warned they will attack American citizens and facilities in the country if the US launches military strikes against Afghanistan.


Earlier this week, one of the country's top Islamic organisations, the Council of Ulemas, said it will call for a jihad or holy war if the United States intervened militarily in Afghanistan.

Megawati Sukarnoputri and George W Bush
The clerics have warned Megawati against supporting Bush
One of the leaders of the council said in a BBC interview that many Muslims regarded the US Government as an enemy.

Our correspondent says such statements are not just rhetoric. Last weekend, Muslim extremists searched hotels for American guests in one of the main cities on the central island of Java.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Last week, President Megawati Sukarnoputri visited Washington - the first Muslim leader to do so - and promised to help the US in its declared war in terrorism.

The BBC's Richard Galpin
"The protesters burnt the American and Israeli flags"
See also:

25 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia clerics threaten jihad
19 Sep 01 | Asia-Pacific
Islamic groups warn of Indonesia violence
17 Sep 01 | Americas
Bush seeks Muslim support
11 Sep 01 | South Asia
Who is Osama Bin Laden?
20 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Who are the Laskar Jihad?
14 Sep 01 | Americas
Islam: Faith under fire
23 Jul 01 | Asia-Pacific
Profile: Megawati Sukarnoputri
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