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Indonesian Muslims order hotels to bar Americans

October 30, 2000
Web posted at: 10:42 AM HKT (0242 GMT)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (Reuters) -- In a sign of growing anti-U.S. sentiment, scores of Muslim Indonesian men entered several international hotels in the central Java city of Solo on Sunday and demanded that American guests leave the country.

Staff at the hotels said they told the men that no Americans were staying. The Muslims, from several organisations, warned that regular checks would take place in the future, they added.

Leading Indonesian news portal www.detik.com quoted one Muslim leader who accused the United States of being involved in some of the unrest hobbling the country.

Relations between Indonesia and the United States have soured in recent months over a range of issues, while Muslim groups nationwide have condemned Washington for its stance on recent violence between Israelis and Palestinians.

"They came to tell Americans that the U.S. had done bad things," one manager at the Lord Inn told Reuters by telephone, adding that about 50 Muslim men entered the hotel lobby, although they did not physically check rooms.

"They forcefully demanded the guest list so although it was violating our rules, I had to show them. They said if there is an American guest, he should get out of the country."

A receptionist at the Novotel Hotel in Solo said they were warned not to accept American guests. She said a group of men had entered the hotel while hundreds more waited outside.

There were no incidents, the hotel staff said. It was unclear if police took any action.

Solo lies 450 kilometers (280 miles) east of Jakarta and is popular with foreign tourists who visit its famous royal palace.

Sunday's actions coincide with rising anti-American sentiment and heightened nationalism in Indonesia amid strained ties with the international community following the murders of three U.N. staff in West Timor last month by pro-Jakarta Timorese militias.

There have also been mounting accusations from Indonesian politicians and some officials that the United States and Australia have been meddling in Indonesia's affairs and stirring up trouble, charges denied by both countries.

On Saturday, the U.S. embassy in Indonesia accused senior government officials of trying to damage ties and said the local environment was rapidly becoming hostile to American interests in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Diplomats say that foreign parties, but especially Western nations, are increasingly becoming scapegoats for some of the headaches confronting Indonesia as it struggles to emerge from three decades of autocratic rule and rebuild its economy.

Copyright 2000 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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