Obama in Indonesia: Much work needed on Muslim ties

Posted on November 9, 2010


Note from Rafik Beekun: Obama has zero credibility in the Muslim world and among Muslims. While he is big on words, he has done nothing to help Muslims. When Muslims in the USA were being victimized by Islamophobia before the recent elections, Obama kept mostly silent. The Palestinian Peace process is in shambles while Obama has feeble words against the boom in Israeli settlements. He consorts with tyrants and dictators in the Muslim world. By contrast, he is concrete in his actions and support for India, Israel and other countries which have repressed Muslim minorities such as China and Russia. Here are some more big promises from Obama.


President Barack Obama has admitted the US must do “a lot more work” to improve ties with the Muslim world, as he continues an Asian tour in Indonesia.

Mr Obama said his efforts had been “sustained” but accepted “mistrust” remained in the Islamic world.

He said the US would expand co-operation on economic issues, security and climate change with Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.

Mr Obama also expressed affection for a country he lived in as a boy.

‘Build trust’

In a wide-ranging news conference with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Mr Obama said he had worked hard to repair ties with Muslim communities.

“I think that our efforts have been earnest and sustained. We don’t expect that we are going to completely eliminate some of the misunderstandings and mistrust that have developed over a long period of time, but we do think that we’re on the right path.”

President Obama had cancelled trips here twice before, to the place he lived for four years of his childhood. But this was less about an emotional return and more about getting down to business.

His meeting with President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was all about a stronger new partnership: in short, the US would love to export more to South East Asia’s biggest economy, and strategically America is rekindling Asian friendships as China strengthens and its influence spreads.

And with the world’s biggest Muslim population, Indonesia’s diversity, as he called it, was worth celebrating.

Mr Obama said the US had reached out to Muslims on areas such as education and business to “build trust” and “create more people-to-people contact”.

But he added: “I think it’s an incomplete project. We’ve got a lot more work to do.”

The US president also criticised Israel’s plan to build apartments for Jewish settlers in disputed East Jerusalem.

“This kind of activity is never helpful when it comes to peace negotiations,” he said.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians resumed in September after a break of almost two years but were suspended after a few weeks when a freeze on the building of Jewish settlements expired.

Mr Obama will deliver a keynote speech at South East Asia’s largest mosque in Jakarta on Wednesday, which analysts say will be his most high-profile attempt to engage the Islamic world since a landmark speech in Cairo in June 2009. [more]

Posted in: Islam