Muslims Protest Jerusalem as Capital

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- Thousands of Indonesian Muslims staged a rally Friday protesting President Donald Trump's recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital, ahead of next week's U.S. Embassy relocation to the city.

About 5,000 people flocked to Jakarta's landmark National Monument and unfurled Indonesian and Palestinian flags.

On Monday, the U.S. plans to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, five months after Trump recognized it as Israel's capital. Palestinians also claim it as their capital.

"We, the Muslims, oppose all forms of colonialism and oppression of the Palestinians," said a speaker standing on the top of a car, greeted with shouts of "Allahu Akbar" (God is Great).

The protest was organized by a new umbrella group that includes the most influential government-sanctioned Indonesian Ulema Council and some hard-line groups such as the Islamic Defenders Front --- known by its Indonesian acronym FPI.

FPI has a long record of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies and attacking rival religious groups.

"Indonesia strongly condemns the (Trump's) decision," Indonesian President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said in his speech Friday before a trilateral clerical meeting between Afghanistan, Indonesia and Pakistan. "Therefore I urge the (U.N.) Security Council and the General Assembly to discuss the issue and take further steps."

The protesters performed Friday prayers at the monument before dispersing.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, does not have diplomatic ties with Israel and has long been a strong supporter of Palestinian aspirations for statehood.

(KA)