BALI, Indonesia (Reuters) - The world's most populous Muslim nation was praised Wednesday by President Bush for supporting the war on terror, but he told Indonesia that Islamic extremists had defiled a great religion.
Bush, however, ran afoul of leading moderate Muslim clerics during talks on the resort island of Bali, where Islamic militants linked to al Qaeda blew up two nightclubs packed with foreign tourists just over a year ago, killing 202 people.
Reflecting growing mistrust of the United States among ordinary Indonesians, the clerics criticized Washington for supporting Israel over the Palestinians and for the occupation of Iraq ( news -web sites ). They said Bush needed to listen more to the opinions of the rest of the world.
Bush, speaking against the backdrop of a palm-fringed beach and turquoise sea, expressed his gratitude to Indonesia after meeting President Megawati Sukarnoputri and the clerics.
"We know that Islam is fully compatible with liberty and tolerance and progress because we see the proof in your country and in our own," he told a news conference.
"Terrorists who claim Islam as their inspiration defile one of the world's greatest faiths. Murder has no place in any religious tradition. It must find no home in Indonesia."
Bush said he wanted to correct what he felt was a misconception that the war on terror was a cover for a war against Islam or that Americans thought all Muslims were terrorists.