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Protests Greet Bush Visit to Indonesia


Protests across Indonesia greet the visit of President Bush to Indonesia, a democratic nation with the world's largest Muslim population. Mr. Bush will meet Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to discuss a variety of issues during his six and a half hour visit.

Thousands of angry Indonesians took to the streets singing "reject Bush now" ahead of Monday's visit by President Bush. Police tightened security around the capital Jakarta and the city of Bogor, 30 kilometers to the south, where the two leaders are meeting.

Shouting "Bush is a terrorist", hundreds of students, militant Muslims, and ordinary people carry banners saying Bush is between around 50 protesters and police as demonstrators tried to push through a police cordon. Elsewhere in the city, thousands more held protests. Police say they are on alert for a possible suicide bombing during Mr. Bush's visit after receiving information of a possible terrorist attack.

Indonesia has suffered a number of bombings during the past several years by the regional terrorist group Jemaah Islamiyah, which is linked to al-Qaida.

The United States considers Indonesia an important ally in the fight against terrorism. Jakarta has arrested and convicted more than 300 militants in the past three years. Although the U.S. and Indonesia have good relations, many Indonesians are angry at U.S. military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Many Indonesians believe the United States is attacking Islam in those countries, and are angry over what they perceive as U.S. bias toward Israel.

Dedi, a student leader, says Mr. Bush's visit does not serve the interests of the Indonesian people. He says the government should reject the visit of the U.S president and uphold the sovereignty of Indonesia. Dedi calls Bush a "world criminal" for the war in Iraq and U.S. treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.

The Middle East and the war in Iraq are expected to be covered during Monday's talks, along with ways the United States can help Indonesia with improve education, ease poverty, fight health threats such as bird flu and attract foreign investment.

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