July 30, 2011 Saturday
Updated 3.30 pm
Nearly 1,500 white-robed protesters - gathering days after a court sentenced 12 men to less than six months in jail for lynching three Ahmahdiyah sect members - marched through the streets until they reached the presidential palace.
Some held placards that said ‘Disband Ahmadiyah or Revolution’ and ‘War against Ahmadiyah.’
Cleric Muhammad Rizieq Shihab shouted through his bullhorn that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono should ‘not be a coward.’ ‘Disband them!‘ he said, as the crowd of 1,500 cheered and chanted ‘Allah Akbar’ or ‘God is great’.
Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim and secular nation of 240 million, has a long history of religious tolerance.
But experts say a small, extremist fringe has grown more vocal in recent years and is seeking - with some success - to impose its will on police, the judicial system and the government. They’ve been emboldened by the inaction of Mr Yudhoyono, who relies on the support of Islamic parties in Parliament, and does not want to offend conservative Muslims by taking sides. — AP