March 31, 2008 / 5:24 PM / 10 years ago

Indonesian president urges calm over Dutch film


(Recasts with quotes from president)

JAKARTA, March 31 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s president urged his predominantly Muslim nation on Monday not to use violence in protests at a film on Islam by a right-wing Dutch lawmaker, and said world leaders had a moral responsibility to take action.

Indonesia has banned broadcasts of the film by Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch anti-immigration Freedom Party, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono told a news conference.

"I also urge that people do not conduct actions such as vandalism, sweeping (for opponents) and other violent activities because Islam and other religions never allow these," he said.

Yudhoyono called on the Dutch government and parliament to stop broadcasts of the film, which accuses the Koran of inciting violence, and urged international media and Web sites to ignore

Wilders launched his short video "Fitna" -- an Arabic term sometimes translated as "strife" -- on the Internet last week, drawing condemnation from Muslim nations.

"I feel world leaders have the moral responsibility to cooperate to prevent and stop such activities as the making of the Fitna film," added Yudhoyono, who said the government intended to ban Wilders from visiting Indonesia.

About 50 members of a hardline Indonesian Muslim group held a protest outside the Dutch embassy earlier in the day, some calling for the death of Wilders.

Dozens of police, with two water cannon, did not intervene during the protest by white-clad members of the Islamic Defenders’ Front, some of whom hurled eggs and plastic water bottles into the compound of the Dutch embassy in Jakarta.

"I call on Muslims around the world, if you run into the maker of the film, kill him," said one speaker at the rally

"Geert Wilders is a Christian terrorist," declared a placard held up by a protester. "Kill Geert Wilders," read another.

The Front is notorious for its past raids on nightspots the group accused of harbouring prostitutes and drug dealers.

In 2003, the group’s leader, Mohammad Rizieq Shihab, was jailed for seven months for inciting violence.

Wilders’ film intersperses images of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States with other Islamist bombings and quotations from the Koran, Islam’s holy book.

It urges Muslims to tear out "hate-filled" verses from the Koran and starts and ends with a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad with a bomb under his turban, accompanied by a ticking sound

The cartoon, first published in Danish newspapers, ignited violent protests around the world and a boycott of Danish products in 2006. Many Muslims regard any depiction of the Prophet as offensive.

Protests against the Dutch film have been small scale in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation and a former Dutch colony. (Reporting by Telly Nathalia; Writing by Ahmad Pathoni; Editing by Tim Pearce)



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