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100,000 Indonesians Rally against War in Iraq - 2003-03-09

Thousands of Indonesians prayed for peace in Iraq during an anti-war rally organized by Indonesia's largest Islamic group. Well more than 100,000 people gathered in the city of Surabaya to call for a peaceful end to the crisis over disarming Iraq.

Indonesia's largest Islamic group, the moderate Nadlatul Ulama, organized the rally. Its leaders say they do not support Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein. Instead, they say, they oppose using war to solve the Iraqi problem. Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda was among the government officials attending the rally.

Indonesia is has the world's largest Muslim population. The government says it opposes military action against Iraq without U.N. approval. Some Indonesian officials have expressed fear that a war against Iraq could spark massive anti-American protests.

The United States says Iraq has not complied with U.N. demands to end illegal weapons programs. Washington says Baghdad must give up its weapons or be forced to disarm. The United States has tens-of-thousands of troops in the Gulf region, poised to strike Iraq.