Indonesians clash with police outside US EmbassyBy AP News Sep 17, 2012 5:52PM UTC
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesians enraged over an anti-Islam film clashed with police outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta on Monday, hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails and setting tires ablaze.
At least one police officer was seen bleeding from the head while being carried to safety by fellow officers. Protesters in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country burned a picture of President Barack Obama and also tried to ignite a fire truck parked outside the embassy. Molotov cocktails exploded against a fence surrounding it. Police used a bullhorn to call for calm, and deployed water cannons and tear gas to try to break up the crowd as the protesters shouted “Allah Akbar,” or God is great.
“We will destroy America like this flag!” a protester screamed while burning a U.S. flag. “We will chase away the American ambassador from the country!”
The demonstration started off peacefully as the group of several hundred protesters from the Islamic People’s Forum and the Front of Islamic Defenders, many dressed in white, marched toward the mission. The protesters later paused to perform afternoon prayers about 200 meters (yards) from the embassy.
The U.S. Embassy earlier Monday issued an emergency message to American citizens, saying about 1,000 people were expected to gather in front of the mission and that about 1,500 police were on hand. However, Maj. Taufik, a police officer at the scene who like many Indonesians uses only one name, estimated there were more than 400 protesters gathered.
Munarman, a spokesman for the Front of Islamic Defenders, told reporters at the scene that the American government must be responsible for the filmmaker who insulted Islam regardless of laws protecting freedom of speech.
“We will continue to protest until the U.S. government takes proper legal action against them,” Munarman said.
Demonstrations were also held Monday in the Indonesian cities of Medan and Bandung. Over the weekend in the central Java town of Solo, protesters stormed KFC and McDonald’s restaurants, forcing customers to leave and management to close the stores. Earlier protests, including one held outside the embassy on Friday, had all remained peaceful.
The American-made film “Innocence of Muslims” ridicules Islam and depicts the Prophet Muhammad as a fraud, a womanizer and a madman. The low-budget movie has prompted violent protests against U.S. embassies and other targets in several countries. The U.S. ambassador to Libya was killed along with three other staff members last week during an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. Washington has responded by deploying additional military forces to beef up security in some countries.
Access to the video has been blocked in Indonesia to prevent people from viewing the film after the government told YouTube it was against the law here. Most of the secular nation’s 210 million Muslims practice a moderate form of the religion.