Indonesia hard-line Muslims protest ban on Facebook accounts

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Muslim hard-liners marched in Indonesia's capital on Friday to protest Facebook's blocking of accounts belonging to their group.

About 200 protesters organized by the Islamic Defenders Front, known by its Indonesian acronym FPI, marched after Friday prayers from a mosque to the Facebook Indonesia office, which was guarded by hundreds of police. They halted traffic along the way as they chanted "Allah Akbar," or "God is Great."

Many carried banners saying "Don't persecute Muslims" and "Please don't judge our status on Facebook."

The group wants to impose Shariah law in the secular nation. It has a long record of vandalizing nightspots, hurling stones at Western embassies and attacking rival religious groups.FPI spokesman Slamet Maarif said they were demanding an explanation of why Facebook had blocked the group's accounts while allowing ones that denounced its leaders and Islam.

"We want justice and no more discrimination against Islamic accounts," he said.

Facebook spokeswoman Putri Ariani said it allows people to use its social networking site to challenge ideas and raise awareness, but removes content that promotes hatred and violence against people with different views.

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim country, but has a secular government and a reputation as a tolerant, pluralist society that respects freedom of expression. Most Indonesians practice a moderate form of Islam, but a small extremist fringe has become more vocal in recent years.

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