Sun, 09 Mar 2003

Jakarta, Surabaya face mass rallies

INDONESIA: Jakarta and Surabaya will host two large demonstrations on Sunday to strengthen Indonesia's opposition to a possible attack on Iraq.

Noted Muslim preacher Abdullah Gymnastiar said he had informed the police about his plan to hold the rally in Jakarta on Sunday (not Saturday as was reported earlier).

"I will read out the letter to U.S. President George W. Bush asking him to avert war, while the protesters will be laying on the ground as if they were killed by a bomb," Aa Gym, as he is popularly known, told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.

Nadhlatul Ulama (NU), the largest Muslim organization in the country, will hold a mass prayer in Surabaya for peace in the middle east.

NU Chairman Hasyim Muzadi on Saturday reiterated his warning that any U.S. attack on Iraq would only foster radicalism in the world's most populous Muslim country.

"Radical Muslim groups will join forces against America, and their actions may lead to terrorism," Hasyim was quoted by Antara as saying.

Sunday's mass prayer is conducted in line with the global campaign against war, the Muslim preacher said.

National police deputy spokesman Sr. Comr. Didi Rochyadi said there were no special preparations ahead of the demonstrations. --JP