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April 14, 2003

Asian Muslims unmoved by Saddam's fall, condemn U.S.

An oblique look far from ME indicates that belief in Islam trumps political considerations of a free society and democratic government.
JAKARTA April 10 - Asian Muslims refused on Thursday to buy into the joy in Iraq over Saddam Hussein's ouster, saying the United States had set an ominous precedent that would resonate long after the guns fell silent.

In majority Muslim Indonesia and Malaysia, opinion was that distrust of U.S. intentions toward Muslims in general would take a long time to heal even though there is little love for the Iraqi leader in this mainly moderate part of the Islamic world.

Some said a long-term consequence was on moderates, and how they viewed the United States, with many seeing imperialism instead of a country promoting democracy and human rights.

Debate on progressive Islam was also now out of fashion.

``At the bottom of many hearts, the hatred of America will linger, the hate is very, very deep,'' said Syafii Maarif, head of the 30-million strong Muhammadiyah, Indonesia's second biggest moderate Muslim group.

``I don't support Saddam but the destruction of Iraq is the destruction of good conscience and the most noble of human values,'' he said, adding U.S. President George W. Bush was the modern version of Gengis Khan, the notorious Mongol conqueror.