More protesters in Indonesia rally against US decision

Protesters at a rally outside the US Embassy in Jakarta yesterday. They were among thousands who have protested in Asian cities against the controversial US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Protesters at a rally outside the US Embassy in Jakarta yesterday. They were among thousands who have protested in Asian cities against the controversial US decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

More protesters in Indonesia took to the streets in central Jakarta yesterday, to rally against United States President Donald Trump's decision to recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

About 6,000 protesters gathered outside the American embassy in Jakarta, said police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) secretary-general Mustafa Kamal and its president Sohibul Iman led the protesters.

The PKS is an Islamic political party that is part of the opposition coalition in Indonesia.

"We are here to show that we disagree, and are against (the decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital) and we believe the majority of the world's people are opposed to what Donald Trump claims," Mr Sohibul told Detik news.

A separate group comprising activists from Masyarakat Relawan Indonesia, or the Indonesia Volunteer Society, gathered at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout - the heart of the main thoroughfare in central Jakarta that is closed every Sunday for Car-Free Day.

The protesters, mostly dressed in traditional Arabic clothing known as jubah, were seen waving Indonesian and Palestinian flags, as well as carrying placards with slogans such as "Free Palestine" and "Kita Bersama Palestina", which means "we stand together with Palestine".

Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and declared the entire city as its capital in 1980, a move condemned by the international community to this day.

Many countries continue to call for a two-state solution, with East Jerusalem as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

The two rallies in Jakarta were significantly larger than the turnout on Friday afternoon, when the first such protest was held at the US mission in Jakarta.

Protesters in Indonesia have joined the chorus of thousands across Muslim-majority cities in Asia, including in Malaysia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, to condemn the controversial decision by the White House to reverse a longstanding US policy and raise the status of Jerusalem.

Many world leaders have said Mr Trump's decision could have grave repercussions for security and stability, as well as derail counter-terrorism efforts.

The Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has said it "deeply regrets" Mr Trump's move to formally recognise Jerusalem and his plan to relocate the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

The group, comprising 57 member states, has said it stands by its position that Jerusalem is an integral part of Palestinian territory that has been occupied by Israel since 1967.

It has since called for an extraordinary summit to be held in Istanbul from tomorrow to Wednesday, and both Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak have said they will be attending the OIC meeting.

Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim-majority country, has been a longstanding supporter of Palestinian independence.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'More protesters in Indonesia rally against US decision'. Print Edition | Subscribe