Sat, 29 Mar 2003

Amid the mounting antiwar protests, including intentions to raid non-nationals, wage a holy war -- or jihad, and boycott U.S. products, the government recently stated that humanitarian assistance is more urgently needed and as such, is a more appropriate expression of an antiwar stance and sympathy for war victims. The Jakarta Post talked to some city residents about this issue.

Slamet, 30, is a chicken noodle soup vendor who works on Jl. Radio Dalam, South Jakarta. He resides nearby with his two wives and three children:

It really touched my heart when I watched a child on TV who had to have an operation for his serious injuries. I think children are among those who desperately need humanitarian aid.

So I completely agree with the idea to deliver humanitarian aid, because the Iraqi people live miserable lives because of the war. This is much more meaningful than just staging antiwar rallies without taking any real action.

I don't really know how long the war will last. Above all, though, I completely disagree with those radical protesters who would raid non-nationals and boycott U.S. products and interests in the country.

Such thoughtless actions will only affect our own interests here, since we depend a lot on foreign products, including those made in the U.S.

Besides, I suspect that these radical protesters are set forth by a certain group, who masterminds such rallies to try and benefit from the situation.

I can understand if America has hard feelings against us due to the boycott and raids... Perhaps the superpower will turn our country into ashes in one day.

However, if radical protesters want to take part in the Iraq war as part of jihad, go ahead. That is the quickest road to death, I'm sure. If they have the guts, just let them go.

I think that it would be better to stay here and work, so as to survive. It is far better than to die in a silly way like that.

Nelly, 30, is an instructor of an English course in Central Jakarta. She resides in Cilandak, South Jakarta, with her family:

To tell you the truth, I hate the radical antiwar movement intimidating foreigners or boycotting U.S. products and interests. Those protests are completely meaningless, if I may say so.

I'm Muslim, but I don't like their extreme protests, held in the name of religion. Religion is not the issue here.

They have certainly misunderstood the concept of a holy war. The meaning of jihad has a deeper and broader meaning than just a superficial physical war.

What is the point of taking part in a holy war, while they oppose wars on the other hand? It's a really stupid idea to protest the war through physical violence.

Why don't they think in more sensible way, for instance, to raise funds and collect humanitarian aid packages to be delivered to the Iraqi people? That kind of help will be much more sympathetic and above all, that's true to the real meaning of a holy war. The Iraqi people are in dire need of that sort of assistance.

I do have to admit, though, that I hate the way America and its allies attacked a small country like Iraq. Then again, I don't side with any warring countries.

Maybe it will last longer than many have predicted. Then, we'll bear the impact of the war on our economy.

Well, it's time for all nations to beat the superpower by means of economic sanctions. I mean that we should choose the euro rather than the U.S. dollar, and in such ways, America will be defeated.

Nanang, 21, is a motorcycle taxi, or ojek, driver who picks up fares around Hotel Indonesia in Central Jakarta. He lives in Kebon Melati, Central Jakarta, with his family:

I think the massive rallies protesting the U.S. and its allies attacking Iraq is in vain. We don't have the power to stop the superpowers from attacking Iraq.

In addition, I also disagree with waging a jihad -- I heard it mentioned that many volunteers had registered to take part in the battlefield in Iraq.

I think it's ridiculous. They don't realize that it's impossible to fight against the sophisticated missiles of the allies only by means of bravery and swords. It's simply useless. However, if those radical protesters keep insisting on going, just let them go.

It'd be better for them to stay here and think seriously about how to survive rather than going out to the battlefield. Or, if we want to help, it is far better for us to raise funds and attempt to deliver humanitarian aid to the Iraqi people.

I don't have any idea of how long the war will last.

-- Leo Wahyudi S.