Indonesia: reaction to prophet drawings 'out of proportion'

Indonesia's foreign minister said Wednesday that radical groups around the world were exploiting public Islamic anger over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, and the reaction was now "out of proportion."

As protests again hit towns across the world's most populous Muslim country, a top Islamic leader said Indonesians had the right to keep rallying outside Western embassies, but stressed that the demonstrations should be peaceful.

"I urge Muslims not to overreact and act in a violent and anarchist way because those things are completely against Islamic teachings," said Din Syamsuddin, a conservative cleric who leads the 30-million strong Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second largest Muslim group. Indonesia's government has condemned the drawings.

"The cartoons have hurt the Islamic community, so it has added to ammunition for (global) radical groups to exploit the situation and the whole thing has got out of proportion," Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda told reporters after meeting with Syamsuddin and other Islamic leaders. He did not elaborate.

The cartoons, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September but have since been reprinted elsewhere, have triggered angry and sometime violent protests throughout the Islamic world.

Indonesian police said they were questioning two editors at a local news magazine that reprinted several of the caricatures to accompany a story on the uproar generated by them, reports the AP.

I.L.