Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Obama heralds Indonesia's political, religious diversity
in latest outreach to Muslims

From Scott Wilson of The Washington Post on NOv. 10:
JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Speaking before thousands in the city that helped raise him, President Obama on Wednesday cited this country's transition from dictatorship to democracy as a model in an Islamic world often governed by unelected autocracies.

He also praised Indonesia - the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation - for a "spirit of tolerance that is written into your constitution, symbolized in your mosques and churches and temples, and embodied in your people," a quality worthy for all the world to emulate.

Obama received a warm welcome from the crowd of about 6,500 at the University of Indonesia, particularly when he spoke in Indonesian, as when he recalled buying satay and bakso from street vendors or referenced the national motto, "Bhinneka Tunggal Ika," or "Unity in Diversity."

"We are two nations which have traveled different paths. Yet our nations show that hundreds of millions who hold different beliefs can be united in freedom under one flag," Obama said.

The speech was cast by White House officials as part of the president's continuing outreach to Muslims, an effort he began last year in Cairo by calling for a "new beginning" between the United States and Islam.

But Muslim views of Obama around the world have worsened in several countries since then, and in the United States, a recent Pew Research Center poll found that nearly one in five Americans thinks the president is a Muslim, in part because of the time he spent here as a child. Obama describes himself as a practicing Christian.


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