More than 150 hardline Muslims stormed into a building housing the Danish Embassy yesterday to protest the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed, then tore down and burned the country's white and red flag.
The rowdy protest was one of the first in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, against the twelve cartoons that first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September. They were reprinted in several other European newspapers this week in a gesture of press freedom.
"We are not terrorists, we are not anarchists, but we are against those people who blaspheme Islam," one of the protesters shouted outside the building, which also houses several other foreign missions.
The demonstrators, who wore white Arabic-style robes, pelted the building with eggs before pushing their way past security guards into the building's plush lobby.
Shouting "God is Great," they tried to push into elevators to reach the mission on the building's 25th floor, but were told to stop by protest leaders.
Before the protesters left the building in the heart of the city's business district, they tore the embassy's flag down and set it on fire on the pavement.
The demonstrators also stopped outside an Indonesian newspaper which briefly ran one of the cartoons on its Web site on Thursday to illustrate its story on the uproar generated by them elsewhere in the Muslim world.
Editors of Rakyat Merdeka met some of the protesters. In a posting on the site yesterday, the paper said it told them that the picture was meant to give context to the story -- something it said the demonstrators understood. It also published an apology to anyone who was offended by the picture.
Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet, favorable or otherwise, to prevent idolatry. The drawings have prompted boycotts of Danish goods, bomb threats and demonstrations against Danish facilities in Muslim nations.
The government of Indonesia reiterated earlier criticism of the paper's decision to publish.
"This is about insensitivity and a trend toward Islamaphobia," foreign ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin said.
"As a democratic country we are very aware of press freedom, but we also believe it should not be used to slander or defame sacred religious symbols," he added.
Indonesia has 220 million people, most of them moderate Muslims.
Yesterday's protest created little fanfare in a country where much larger demonstrations occur on a daily basis. Nearby office workers and residents mostly ignored the protest or stopped only briefly.
The protesters in Jakarta were members of the Islamic Defenders Front, which campaigns for Islamic law and often takes to the street against perceived violators of Islamic rules at home or abroad.
Three protesters said they were received by the Danish ambassador, and claimed he told them he planned to apologize to Indonesian Muslims for causing offense.
"If he doesn't, then we will demand the government kick him out," protest organizer Ali Reza said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has appeared in the past few days with a bandage about the size of a few postage stamps on the back of his head, in the latest episode to stoke speculation about his health. The bandage was visible in state media images when Kim appeared at a Korean People’s Army event from July 24 to Tuesday last week, the NK News Web site and Chosun Ilbo newspaper said. There were also images at events late last month in which the bandage was gone and a greenish spot was visible, they said, citing a review of North
CAUSE FOR ALARM: The virus has spread through 14 provinces in just a few days despite high vaccination rates, as authorities ramp up containment measures China is confronting its broadest COVID-19 outbreak since the pathogen emerged in late 2019 after the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant broke through the country’s defenses, with cases now in 14 provinces. While the overall number of infections — more than 300 so far — is much lower than outbreaks elsewhere, the wide spread indicates that the variant has been on the loose for some time and is alarming officials who wield the strictest containment measures in the world. It is the biggest challenge for the world’s second-largest economy since the virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in December
MISINFORMATION: The digital giant said there were ‘numerous’ offending videos that were removed from the channel, which has 1.85 million subscribers Sky News Australia has been banned from uploading content to YouTube for seven days after contravening its medical misinformation policies by posting numerous videos that denied the existence of COVID-19 or encouraged people to use hydroxychloroquine or ivermectin. The ban was imposed by the digital giant on Thursday afternoon, the day after the UK’s Daily Telegraph ended Alan Jones’ regular column amid controversy about his COVID-19 commentary, which included calling the New South Wales Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant a village idiot on his Sky News program. YouTube has not disclosed which Sky News program the videos were from, but said there
CLAMPDOWN: Sydney’s lockdown has been extended three times, and more than 1,300 police were patrolling the city on Saturday to deter any would-be demonstrators Sydney reported a record-matching number of new local cases of COVID-19, while infections also rose in the state of Queensland, a day after its most-populous region went into lockdown. There were 239 cases in Sydney in the 24 hours to 8pm on Saturday, equal to the tally set three days earlier and the most since the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 began sweeping through the nation’s largest city in June. New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said there were some signs that the virus is mostly being contained to parts of Sydney’s southwest, where the strictest curbs are in place. While most residents have