World, Asia - Pacific

Thousands in Jakarta protest US Jerusalem move

US intends to officially relocate embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14

Thousands in Jakarta protest US Jerusalem move Protesters show a support for Palestine at National Monument in Jakarta, Indonesia on May 11, 2018. The protest called “Indonesian Moslems: Freedom of Beit al-Maqdis” aims to lash U.S. President Donald Trump’ decision to move U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on 14th May, 2018. ( Anton Raharjo - Anadolu Agency )

By Hayati Nupus and Chandni Vasandani

JAKARTA, Indonesia

Thousands have gathered in Jakarta Friday to protest the relocation of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Several Muslim groups and organizations, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), joined the march at the National Monument (Monas) after Friday prayers.

All age groups could be seen among the protesters, with families taking to the streets of the Indonesian capital with Palestinian flags and scarves.

The march is a show of solidarity and support for Jerusalem, said a rally organizer.

Last December, U.S. President Donald Trump sparked international outrage when he unilaterally recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital and vowed to relocate Washington's embassy to the city.

The U.S. intends to officially relocate its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem on May 14 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s establishment in 1948 -- an event Palestinians refer to as the “Nakba” or the “The Catastrophe”.

“The move is a blatant disregard of the nine UN Security Council resolutions,” said Ahmad Syuhada to the crowd’s cheers.

Through a declaration read at the rally, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) said they supported the recognition of Al Quds (Jerusalem) as the capital of Palestine and advised other countries to support Palestine by cutting off diplomatic ties with Israel.

"We back the decision of Jakarta MUI Central Board to support Palestine to make Bayt al-Maqdis [Jeruslam] the capital of Palestine," said MUI Deputy Secretary General Zaitun Rasmin, through the statement.

Rasmin also encouraged Muslims to offer assistance to the Palestinian people to meet their educational, food, and health needs.

The demonstrators called on the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to denounce the embassy transfer and hold an emergency session to hear the aspirations of Muslims worldwide.

The rally was attended by former Speaker of Indonesia People's Consultative Assembly Hidayat Nur Wahid and Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.

Heavy police and military presence was seen around Jakarta, concentrated around the Monas area which is located close to the U.S. Embassy and presidential palace.

On Thursday, the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta said it would be closing several services Friday and reducing the number of on-duty staff in anticipation of the rally. American citizens in the city have also been urged to exercise caution during the protests.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the Palestine-Israel conflict, with Palestinians seeking East Jerusalem -- occupied by Israel since 1967 -- as the capital of an independent Palestinian state.

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