BOGOR, West Java ~ In a scene unusual for Indonesia, about 50 people staged a street rally here in support of the upcoming visit of US President George W. Bush.
“Welcome to Indonesia, Mr. Bush. Do not pressure Indonesia …” said a banner displayed by the pro-Bush protesters on Wednesday on the sidewalk of a busy roundabout in this hill town that will host a meeting between Bush and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Monday.
A statement they distributed said the protestors were from a group linked to the Red-and-White Force, a pro-government youth group.
“As a nation that is not against democracy, there is nothing wrong to act wisely and welcome the visit of Bush, as long as the dignity of the nation is not put at a disadvantage,” the statement said.
Not far from them, a group of about 100 Muslim students and unionists took part in a more standard protest against the visit.
The students, from the Indonesian Muslim Student Associations held a joint prayer earlier in the day that they said had asked God not to punish Indonesia for hosting the visit.
Anti-Bush protests, each involving groups of between 50 and 100 students, were reported in Yogyakarta in Central Java, Medan in North Sumatra, Manado in North Sulawesi, and Palu, capital of the restive province of Central Sulawesi.
Bush’s visit to the world’s largest Muslim nation has been widely protested by most Muslims here, with daily street demonstrations as well as a threatened no-confidence motion against Yudhoyono.