Amid massive protests condemning the distribution of an anti-Muslim film, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Tuesday he plans to propose an international protocol banning blasphemy against religious symbols.
Yudhoyono held a plenary Cabinet meeting to discuss fallout of the circulation of the video Innocence of Muslims over the internet.
“I wish Foreign Minister [Marty Natalegawa] could present the latest developments on the political and security situation in the world following the release of a video clip that denigrates a certain religion,” the President told the ministers upon opening the meeting.
“The situation has, both directly and indirectly, been correlated with the recent security situation in Indonesia,” Yudhoyono added.
Following worldwide violent protests against the controversial movie, a rally organized by several Islamic mass organizations at the US embassy in Jakarta turned violent when protesters started throwing rocks at the police deployed to safeguard the protest on Monday.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Djoko Suyanto said that the President had suggested that an international protocol be adopted worldwide.
“The protocol will be proposed through the UN. This should make it clear that freedom of information and expression must not violate or hurt certain religions,” Djoko said on Tuesday at a press conference, adding that freedom without limits would harm the national interest.
“We are not proposing a limitation on human rights related to freedom of expression. However, people should not abuse the freedom to create unrest or to violate others’ rights,” the minister said.
Also on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported that California Coptic Christian and Muslim leaders denounced the movie that has sparked violence in the Middle East, as the filmmaker, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, a Cerritos, California man and self-described Coptic Christian and his family, left their suburban home and went into hiding.
The Southern California religious leaders joined a chorus of condemnation about last week’s killing of the US ambassador to Libya and three other Americans as violence continued and the leader of the powerful militant group Hezbollah called for more protests.
Maher Hathout, a senior adviser to the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Los Angeles, said the reaction in the Middle East has been unwarranted and irrational for such an “insignificant production”. He said the filmmakers were “psychologically diseased with hearts full of hate and minds full of ignorance”.
Many of the 300,000 Coptic Christians in the US left Egypt to escape discrimination. In the past decade, Coptic churches have become the target of occasional attacks that have escalated to unprecedented levels since the ouster of long-time president Hosni Mubarak.
Separately, 60 members of the local Indonesian Muslim community in the New Zealand capital were roving Wellington on Sunday morning cleaning bays around Wellington harbor, stuffing broken bottles, torn plastic and dented beer cans into black bags.
“We are not going to protest the video,” said Ruliyati Dewi who coordinated the event “We are different kinds of Muslims who love this country.”
Duncan Graham contributed reporting from Wellington