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Riot Police Clash with Anti-American Protesters in Jakarta - 2001-10-15

Riot police in Jakarta have clashed with anti-American protesters in what have become almost daily demonstrations. Monday's rally comes a day after Indonesia's president appeared to be backing off from her support of U.S. led air strikes against terrorist targets in Afghanistan.

Indonesian police fired water cannon and tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators outside Parliament Monday. Many of the protesters are from militant Islamic groups opposed to U.S. air strikes on suspected terrorist targets in Muslim-led Afghanistan.

It is the fourth violent protest in less than a week. Many of the activists are demanding Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri condemn the bombing campaign and withdraw her pledge of support given to President Bush during her visit to the United States last month. A number of radical groups have also insisted that the Indonesian government suspend diplomatic ties with Washington, seeing the military action as an attack of Islam rather than terrorism.

Analysts say the president has to strike a balance between siding with the international coalition against terrorism and satisfying the people of Indonesia, the country with the world's largest Muslim population.

Ms. Megawati appeared to take a first step toward appeasing her people late Sunday, yet without criticizing the United States directly. Speaking at a Mosque, the president said no nation has the right to look for terrorists by attacking another country's territory and that "blood cannot be cleansed with blood."

To date, Ms. Megawati has pledged solidarity with Washington in its efforts to combat global terrorism.

Since that statement, the United States has promised more than $600 million in financial assistance and trade benefits to Indonesia, now in its fourth year of economic crisis.