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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

80,000 Islamists Gather in Indonesia

APA young Indonesian marching in a parade Sunday during the International Caliphate Conference 2007 in Jakarta.
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Over 80,000 people gathered in the Indonesian capital on Sunday for a conference hosted by a radical international Muslim group, Hizb-ut-Tahrir.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir said the gathering was aimed at strengthening Muslims' commitment to revive the Caliphate, a single Muslim government across the Islamic world, through peaceful means.

The group rented out the 80,000-capacity Bung Karno Stadium in the heart of Jakarta for the International Caliphate Conference.

"After the destruction of the Caliphate, tragedy after tragedy has descended on the Muslim world," said Ismail Yusanto, spokesman of Hizb-ut-Tahrir Indonesia.

"Our nation has been divided into 50, and the infidel colonialists picked rulers in each of these countries," he said.

Hizb-ut-Tahrir, founded in Jerusalem in 1953, is banned in Russia and several Arab and Central Asian countries, but its Indonesian branch has grown rapidly in recent years.

It has denied allegations of anti-Semitism and links to violent Islamic militants, which have been cited by some in Britain as reasons why the group should be banned.

Several mainstream Indonesian Muslim leaders were invited to speak at the conference, including popular and moderate preacher Abdullah Gymnastiar.

But Hizb-ut-Tahrir said two of its foreign activists asked to speak had been barred from entering the country by the Indonesian government.

"We hear endless rhetoric about a battle of ideas, but the only actions we see are bans, smears and an attempt to silence debate," Abdul Wahid, Hizb-ut-Tahrir chairman in Britain, said in a statement.