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Reflections on Obama’s Indonesia Odyssey

Posted By Howard Rotberg On November 16, 2010 @ 12:08 am In FrontPage | 22 Comments

Obama is at it again.  First, he awarded America’s highest civilian award – the Medal of Freedom – to Mary Robinson who presided over the infamous Durban Conference of 2001, where Islamic countries were allowed to highjack a conference about racism into a hatefest against the one country in the Middle East (Israel) that has a functioning justice system protecting minority rights.

Then he went to Cairo and showed his intentions to appease radical Islam by accepting that tension between the West and Islam has had nothing to do with Muslim actions against the West but was “fed by colonialism that denied rights and opportunities to many Muslims, and a Cold War in which Muslim-majority countries were too often treated as proxies without regard to their own aspirations.”

And then he uttered the infamous words, equating the glorious tradition of justice, freedom and tolerance in America with that of totalitarian countries like Egypt, Syria, Iran, and Saudi Arabia:  Obama contended that America and Muslim countries “share common principles – principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”

As a lawyer myself, I can tell you that the American justice system is not perfect, but I would much rather be tried for a crime in America, Israel or Canada than any of the Muslim countries.   And, as a Jew, the idea that Muslim countries, most of which have ethnically cleansed themselves of Jews (and are now doing the same with Christians) share the same degree of “tolerance” as do we in the West, is, quite simply, an obscenity.

So, Obama has now visited his boyhood home of Indonesia.   Granted, Indonesia does have some form of democracy, perhaps the most democracy in the Islamic world.  But, once again, Obama has sought to further western submission to radical Islam by morally equating America with far lesser lights when it comes to liberal democracy.  Specifically, he stated in Indonesia that the United States and Indonesia have “shared values” and that “our nations show that hundreds of millions who hold different beliefs can be united in freedom under one flag.”   He claimed that in Indonesia, under its Muslim majority (87% of the population is Muslim) “people choose to worship God as they please. Islam flourishes, but so do other faiths.”

The biggest problem with these words are that they are blatantly false.   The other problem is why would an American president, sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States, travel the Islamic world, with the message that American is responsible for the Islamic sense of victimization, and that Islam is correct in the sense that the Islamic notion of democracy under Sharia law and the dictates of the Koran is equivalent to the Judeo-Christian notion of liberal democracy, based on separation of Church and State, and an emphasis on Justice.   All the talk of “tolerance” in the Islamic world obviously refers to something very different to what I see as tolerance.

For let us look at Indonesia.  Although the Western media does not seem too interested, there is a disturbing recent history of violence and oppression of minority religions, especially towards Christians around the time of the East Timor independence movement, and more recently towards a minority Islamic sect called Ahmadiyah.

With respect to Christian persecution, read about the atrocities in the central Indonesian area called Sulawesi and about the extremist Islamists (tolerated by authorities) called the Laskar Jihad.

The January, 1999, anti-Christian violence resulted in the death of tens of thousands.   Chris Wilson documented the ethnic cleansing in North Maluku in his book Ethno-Religious Violence in Indonesia: From Soil to God. (Oxon: Routledge, 2008).

The Asian Human Rights Commission in a study released last February concluded that there is no religious freedom in Indonesia.  It stated that “There is continuing concern at the distinctions made in legal documents between the six recognized religions of Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism, and the adverse impact on the freedom of thought, conscience and religion of people belonging to minorities, ethnic groups and indigenous peoples in Indonesia.”   There are lesser rights for non-recognized religions like Judaism, or for those who accept no religion and are atheists.   A blasphemy law criminalizes speech and other expression by those outside the officially recognized religions.

Read on the internet about the terrible persecution of the Ahmadiyah minority Muslim sect, which is under violent intimidation in both Indonesia and Pakistan.   But of course wars between Muslim sects (such as Sunni versus Shi’a) are a continuous problem in the supposed tolerant world of Islam.

Indonesia does not recognize Israel;  that is, it does not believe that Jews can live in peace in the small historic Jewish homeland, surrounded by hostile Muslim states.   Israelis are not allowed to travel to Indonesia.   I do not believe it has ever objected to any of the numerous statements from radical Islamist groups and states that Israel should be “wiped out”.

And so, to the American president who reserves his criticisms for Israel’s homebuilding around its historic capital of Jerusalem, there is no criticizing Indonesian Muslims, Egyptian Muslims, or Palestinian Muslims.   There is only continued praise for them and insistence that Americans and Muslims share similar values.  There is never a request that Muslims take responsibility for their problems, only an appeasement-like agreement that their problems would disappear if Americans and Israelis would only submit a little more to this tolerant religion of peace.

We should be very suspicious of President Obama and what this all means for the future of our children and grandchildren.   We have been handed a precious legacy of freedom and we should not stand idly by, as our legacy is squandered on the alter of moral relativism and false notions of tolerance.

Howard Rotberg (www.howardrotberg.ca) is a Canadian author, whose most recent book is TOLERism:  The Ideology Revealed (Mantua Books).


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