US closes Indonesia consulate in wake of violent anti-US protests


An Indonesian member of Justice and Prosperous Party (PKS) tears a copy of the US during a protest against a low-budget US film insulting to Muslims outside the US embassy in Jakarta on September 19, 2012.


Adek Berry

The USA has temporarily shuttered its consulate in the Indonesian city of Medan as of Thursday morning, as anti-US protests centered around an offensive film ramp up in intensity. 

AP reports around 300 members of Islamic group Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia gathered around the Consulate early Wednesday, causing understandable concern to the workers inside. 

50 students promulgating Muslim views protested at the Consulate as well, marking a tense three days for American interests. 

Intense protests have also taken place in Jakarta, where on Monday, protesters and police fought with stones, tear-gas bombs, and Molotov cocktails in front of the US Embassy. 

Read more from GlobalPost: Indonesia: anti-US protests turn ugly

Although the Medan consulate will be shuttered Thursday, the Jakarta embassy and the US Consulate General in Surabaya will remain open.

The Jakarta Embassy's website states: "We advise, as always, that people should avoid large crowds and other gatherings that might turn violent."

The US response may also be linked to the violent demands of Abu Bakar Bashir, a radical Indonesian cleric who has called for violent terrorist responses, ala-Libya, to the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" film.

Bashir has been known for a long time for his radical opinions, and he has vocally voiced his support for now-deceased Al Qaeda figurehead Osama Bin Laden and the 2002 Bali bombings that killed 202.

Read more from GlobalPost: US diplomats destroy classified documents as anti-US protests spread through Muslim world

Bashi was jailed in June of last year for actively supporting a militant training camp, reports the BBC, but is quite capable of projecting his views to the outside world. 

Medan is the capital of North Sumatra, and is Indonesia's third-largest city.

Upswellings of popular sentiment against "infidels" appears to be on the upswing in Medan, notes this Jakarta Post piece on "anti-Kafir" sentiment in both the North Sumatran capital and in Jakarta.