JAKARTA - Hundreds of hardline Islamists rallied in the Indonesian capital on Friday to demand President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono disband a minority Muslim sect or resign.
The white-clad members of the Islamic Defenders Front, with their children in tow, carried banners calling for Yudhoyono's resignation unless the Ahmadiyah sect is outlawed.
The Front is a vigilante group that has links to the police and uses violence to enforce its hardline values on the mainly Muslim country of 240 million people."
"Ahmadiyah is not part of Islam, it's blasphemous to Islam. Their prophet, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, is a false prophet from India," Front Jakarta branch chairman Salim Alatas told AFP.
The rally comes almost two weeks after Islamist fanatics brutally murdered three Ahmadiyah adherents in west Java's Banten province, the most horrific in a long line of attacks on the sect in Indonesia in recent years.
After the attack, a video of which was posted online, Yudhoyono called for violent extremist groups to be banned and urged Indonesians to show tolerance and moderation in their religious beliefs.
Police did nothing to stop the February 6 attack on the Ahmadiyah by some 1,500 armed extremists, and say they have no evidence the murders were the work of an organised group.
Nine people have been arrested over the incident, including an Ahmadiyah man who was set upon and badly injured by the mob.
A 2008 decree restricts the sect's religious freedoms but stops short of banning it outright. Even so, senior government officials say the Ahmadiyah should accept mainstream Sunni Islam or renounce their faith.
The sect claims 500,000 followers in Indonesia, where it has existed since the 1920s. It believes that its Indian-born founder was the final prophet of Islam, not Mohammed.
Scores of police stood watch as the radicals occupied Jakarta's central traffic circle after Friday prayers, but there were no arrests or violence.
Human rights organisations have urged Yudhoyono to do more to fight rising intolerance in the world's most populous Muslim-majority country.