JAKARTA — Some 200 Indonesians converged on a Jakarta square on Tuesday to denounce an Islamic vigilante group known for its armed attacks on minorities and moderates.
Public anger against the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which has launched a series of attacks since 2000 against targets including the US embassy and nightclubs, has been on the rise.
"We are not calling for FPI to be disbanded. We only demand that justice be enforced against the violence the group has committed," said Tunggal Pawestri, spokeswoman of a movement calling itself FPI-Free Indonesia.
"We are sick of their violent raids," she said, as small scuffles erupted in the crowd of protesters at the Hotel Indonesia roundabout in central Jakarta, which is a regular venue for protests.
Police detained at least two people, but it was not clear if they were arrested or only questioned.
On Saturday, protesters stormed an airport and blocked the arrival of FPI's senior leaders in the Central Kalimantan town of Palangkaraya to inaugurate a branch in the province on Borneo island.
Stick-wielding fanatics connected to FPI are known for raids on nightclubs and foodstalls during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and attacks on the minority Ahmadiyah sect.
FPI, which wants Islamic Sharia law in Indonesia, is alleged to have links to the police and is accused of using violence to enforce its radical values in a country of 240 million people, the majority moderate Muslims.
FPI supporters last month hurled rocks and eggs at the offices of Indonesia's home affairs ministry to demand the government maintain by-laws banning alcohol in certain districts.
Protesters at Tuesday's rally chanted anti-FPI slogans and sang the Indonesian national anthem. They carried banners reading, "Country should not bow to FPI," and "Condemn violence in the name of religion."
Indonesia's constitution guarantees freedom of religion. The world's most populous Islamic nation has struggled to deal with a radical fringe of extremists who have carried out numerous attacks including the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202 people.
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