Indonesian clerics warn of jihad
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- Indonesia's top Islamic authority, the Council of Indonesian Ulemas, or Islamic teachers, called for all Muslims to unite in a jihad against the United States and its allies if Afghanistan is attacked.
The position comes just days after Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri met U.S. President George W. Bush at the White House and condemned the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York and Washington.
The council condemned the attacks in New York and Washington, but said U.S. forces should not attack Afghanistan.
"We ask for all the Muslims of the world to unite and gather all their forces to fight in the name of Allah in a jihad if an aggression by America and its allies occurs against Afghanistan and the Islamic world," Council spokesperson, Dien Syamsuddin said, reading from a written statement.
When asked if a "jihad" meant an armed conflict against the West, he reportedly said: "No, fighting in the name of Allah can mean many things."
In the same statement, the Council also condemned any attempt to harm Americans currently in Indonesia.
"Please do not take any violent actions against Americans or other nations that are now in Indonesia. These actions are against the values of Islam," Syamsuddin said.
"This will ruin the image of Islam."
Indonesia is the most populous Muslim nation.
It was the first public statement by the Council, claiming to represent more than 180 million Islamic citizens, nearly 80 percent of the country's population.
The Council also demanded that the Indonesian government prevent U.S. ships and planes from travel through Indonesia, particularly the country's strategic sea-lanes.
Syamsuddin also asked for the U.S. government to show clear evidence that Osama bin Laden and the Taliban government of Afghanistan were involved in terrorist attacks.
Additionally, he requested the U.S. government "exercise introspection" in the wake of the attacks.
"We support all wars against terrorism. But we have to define terrorist. In the perception of many Muslims and many countries, the government of America is the terrorist."
Anti-American sentiment is on the rise in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, following the terrorist attacks in the United States.
Daily demonstrations march in front of the U.S. Embassy and consulates in Indonesia, threatening violence in the event of a retaliatory attack on Afghanistan.
On Sunday, groups of Islamic militants swept through the Central Java city of Solo searching for Americans in at least six international hotels in the area.
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