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`Guard against jungle law'

JAKARTA April 7. The President of Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, told a conference of Islamic women today that women across the world should launch a movement against war.

``I urge all women across the world, in any country, regardless of race, ethnic group, religion, group or nationality, to launch a moral movement to refuse war, destruction and annihilation,'' Megawati Sukarnoputri told an international conference of several thousand Muslim women.

Women ``need to remind those who claim themselves to be the world's machos, that we do not admire what they are doing,'' she said.

Ms Megawati, often given to oblique and indirect public comments, did not specifically mention Iraq, although she and her Government have criticised the U.S.-led attack there in the past. But she said: ``What we see now are the first signs that humanity has been declining because jungle law has started to come back, where those who are strong force their will on those who are weak.''

Hours after the U.S. attack on Iraq began, she said Indonesia strongly denounced it.

Harsher criticism has come from her outspoken Vice-President, Hamzah Haz, who has called the U.S. President, George W. Bush, ``the king of terrorists'', and Amien Rais, head of Indonesia's top legislature, who compared Mr. Bush to the late Soviet dictator, Josef Stalin, in wanting to eliminate all potential enemies.

Despite such rhetoric, the Government and elite have also said they do not view the attack on Iraq as directed against Islam, and have cautioned against violent protests. The country, which is 85 percent Muslim, has seen daily protests since the war began, but most have been relatively peaceful.

That pattern was repeated today when some 250 students demonstrated in front of the heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Jakarta, where their strongest action was the burning of an American flag.

Around 50 protesters also hit the streets in the central Java city of Yogyakarta. — Reuters

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