RealNews

Indonesians Crank-Up Anti-War Fervour

A huge rally of Indonesian Muslims prayed for peace yesterday as Australian and Indonesian officials tried to agree on a position on Iraq before their ministers meet tomorrow. In Surabaya, Indonesia’s second largest city, a crowd estimated at between 100,000 and 500,000 answered a call from the biggest Islamic organisation, Nahdlatul Ulama, to pray for the future of Indonesia and oppose the looming war in Iraq. A separate demonstration was due to be held in Jakarta late yesterday. Apart from one large rally in Jakarta earlier this year, there have been no mass anti-war demonstrations in Indonesia, but yesterday’s rallies may mean this is to change. Iraq will be the main topic at today’s Australia-Indonesia Ministerial Forum where the Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, will lead a delegation of Australian ministers keen to contain damage that Australia’s relationship with Indonesia could sustain from war in the Gulf. A spokesman for Indonesia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry, Marty Natalegawa, said despite the differences between Australia and Indonesia over Iraq, the two governments were hoping to finalise a statement they could agree on. He also hoped that the Government could maintain its successes convincing religious leaders that war with Iraq was not a war on Islam. Full Story

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