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Indonesian bishop calls for calm amidst anti-US riots

Catholic leaders in Indonesia have issued an urgent call for calm, and called an emergency meeting with other religious leaders, in response to widespread anti-American riots this week in Jakarta.

With Cardinal Julius Darmaatmadja in Rome, participating in the Synod of Bishops, Bishop Ignatius Suharyo of Semarang made the call for a restoration of civil order.

Bishop Suharyo exhorted the Muslim majority of Indonesia to recognise that US strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan do not constitute an assault on Islam.

"The conflict," he stressed in an interview with the Fides news service, "is political and economic, not religious."

Militant Islamic groups have staged noisy and sometimes violent demonstrations in Jakarta, forcing the US, British, French, and Australian embassies to close their doors, along with some international schools and businesses. The more moderate Ulema Council of Muslim leaders issued a statement condemning the bombing of Afghanistan, and urging the Indonesian government to break off diplomatic relations with the US.