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Denmark Withdraws Ambassador, Embassy Staff From Indonesia


Denmark has temporarily withdrawn its ambassador and embassy staff from Indonesia citing concerns for their safety in the wake of angry protests over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.

The Danish foreign ministry said threats have been directed against its personnel in Indonesia, which has the world's largest Muslim population.

Indonesian foreign ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin says Indonesia has not been informed about the departures.

"From the procedural point of view any ambassador who leaves this country, who leaves his post, has to inform, has to notify, the foreign ministry," said Yuri Thamrin. "And I can confirm there is no such notification coming out from the Danish ambassador, so we could conclude that he's still in Indonesia."

But the Danish ambassador to Indonesia, Neils Erik Andersen, says he has informed Jakarta about his departure from the country.

"The foreign ministry cannot deny that I have left the country," said Neils Erik Andersen. "If they do so, it is wrong. The foreign ministry in Copenhagen have issued a press statement to that effect. The foreign ministry in Indonesia has received a fax from me to that effect."

A small group of Muslim militants demonstrating against the publication of the cartoons broke into the building housing the Danish embassy on February 3, but were quickly evicted.

The incident prompted Denmark to advise its citizens to leave the country.

Small, almost daily protests have continued in Jakarta and other cities, but the demonstrations have been peaceful.

The Indonesian government has condemned the publications of the cartoons but warned protesters against violence.

The Danish foreign ministry has also withdrawn its ambassador and embassy staff from Iran and Syria citing security concerns.

The cartoons have been reprinted in newspapers in Europe, the United States, Australia, New Zealand, and several other countries citing freedom of speech.