Barack Obama

Jan 21st, 2007, in IM Posts, by

Senator Barack Obama's Muslim past in Indonesia is being used against him.

Senator Barack Obama from Illinois is reputed to hold some ambition of contesting the Democratic Party nomination for US president next year. His likely rival for the nomination, Senator Hillary Clinton, or her campaign staff, is believed by some to have "leaked" information about Obama having attended a Muslim school in Indonesia, a "madrassa", when living here as a child, and suggested that he attempted to conceal the fact, that further, he may still be a closet Muslim and sympathetic to the Muslim radical cause.

Barack Obama
Barack Obama.

Right-wing news agencies seized on the news. tribune Fox News morning program "Fox & Friends" on the 19th "broke" the story:

Host Steve Doocy highlighted Obama's middle name, Hussein, and questioned whether Obama was indoctrinated in extremist Muslim ideology, given that Islamic schools in Indonesia are often believed to be funded by the Saudi Arabian government, or Saudi "charities", and to teach a Wahhabi system.

In reality it appears that Barack Obama discussed his attendance at a "Muslim" elementary school in Jakarta in his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father", published in 1995. Page 142 says "Dreams from My Father" :

In Indonesia, I'd spent 2 years at a Muslim school, 2 years at a Catholic school. In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies. In the Catholic school, when it came time to pray, I'd pretend to close my eyes, then peek around the room. Nothing happened. No angels descended.

It also appears the reason he attended the "Muslim school" was that his parents could not afford to send him to a "better" school, such as an international one. From his second book, "The Audacity of Hope", page 274 "The Audacity of Hope" :

Without the money to go to the international school that most expatriate children attended, I went to local Indonesian schools and ran the streets with the children of farmers, servants, tailors, and clerks.

Obama attended this school for two years, between the ages of six and eight, and thereafter went to a Catholic school. His father was a Muslim, from Kenya, but non-practising, likely an agnostic or atheist. In any case Obama had little or no contact with his father after the age of two. His mother was a non-religious woman from Kansas. Barack Obama has been a Christian since the mid 1980's, belonging to the United Church of Christ, although said to be not a regular attendee at services.

_______________

In reality Obama attended not an Islamic school but the state run SDN Menteng 01 in Central Jakarta. On 14th February 2007 the school's current principal, Hardi Priyono, vehemently denied that any sort of radicalism was likely to have been taught to students in Religious Instruction classes at any time in the school's history.

Priyono said what was taught at the school was in accordance with the national curriculum and that his school, which he has been in charge of since 1999, was open to students of any religion.

SDN Menteng 1 was built by the Dutch colonial government in 1934 and was accepted into the Indonesian national system in 1961. Since then the school, which occupies 2300m2, has received students from all sorts of backgrounds, Priyono says.

This year we have 474 students and there are Muslims, Christians, and also Hindus. We accept them all here.
(Tahun ini siswa kami sebanyak 474, mereka ada yang beragama Islam, Kristen, dan juga Hindu. Semua kami terima di sini.)

90% were Muslims, he said, but that was only because most Indonesians were Muslim. Non-Muslim students receive religious instruction in their own religion, in a separate classroom.

When Barack Obama attended the school he was registered under the name Barry Soetoro. He left in 1971, in the fifth grade. antara


92 Comments on “Barack Obama”

  1. avatar Daryono says:

    Obama attended a Muslim school in Indonesia, a “madrassa”, when living here as a child, and suggested that he attempted to conceal the fact, that further, he may still be a closet Muslim and sympathetic to the Muslim radical cause.

    Oh yes America; he lived in Indonesia; he went to a Muslim school…if he ever became Presdident he would invite Osama to the White house for tea and together they would turn American children into suicide bombers…etc etc.

  2. avatar sgn says:

    As for Democrate Candidates, I think Hillary Clinton has more chance then Obama.
    It is not his 2 years in a Muslim school and another 2 years in a Catholic school, but Hillary is more popular and better knowledge and experience while her husband was the president.

    Hi Patung,

    I just Curious, why in the first place “IndonesiaMatters” posted the article above. What was the big deal being 2-6 years in Indonesian school?

    sgn.

  3. avatar John Orford says:

    I like the guy even more now – am sure prez obama won’t have gone down the road of prez the “good” Christian bush.

  4. avatar Grace and Mercy says:

    sgn:

    I just Curious, why in the first place “IndonesiaMatters” posted the article above. What was the big deal being 2-6 years in Indonesian school?

    I think because deep in all Indonesians we have this “benci tapi rindu” feeling towards the good ole USA and anything foreign. (I’m not talking about you in particular patung). We always love to slice and dice the tiniest bit of anything US (or foreign for that matter) that has an Indonesian connection no matter how insignificant it is.

    I watch a recent interview of George Benson the jazz guy here on an entertaniment show in TV. Instead of asking him about his musc etc that’s entertainment related, the interviewer asked him about terrorism and Indonesia.

    I was entertained indeed.

    Sadly though it bears the fact that as a nation we are still filled with insecurity.

  5. avatar Ihaknt says:

    Sgn,

    Barack’s step dad is Indo. Maybe somehow ‘we’ feel related to him.
    I hope if he does get elected, he would be able to change many negative perceptions about Islam.

    Ok, ok, Ismail, here we go. 😀 I am just planning ahead.

  6. avatar sgn says:

    Or, changed many negative perception about having step father.

  7. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Host Steve Doocy highlighted Obama’s middle name, Hussein, and questioned whether Obama was indoctrinated in extremist Muslim ideology.

    You see, there are also narrow minded people living in the western world.
    It is like asking a spanish man named Jesus (frequent name there) if he is the son of God. And such narrow minded provocant people live at both sides of the “front”.
    That the political “culture” every where, trying to weaken the postion of the contrahent even through her/his privat matters.

  8. avatar Rockstar says:

    I heard so many bad things about obama, things that he used to support in the past but not anymore because he was afraid he would lose votes. I forgot what they are but they are quite important issues. Do answer.yahoo and type in obama.

    As for Hillary Clinton, she’s quite a joke. I don’t know why people think of her seriously. I’d stick with the republican but alas, they lost alot this year.

  9. avatar Joy says:

    I am affraid that Obama will come out from this run with his back covered with knifes (already have a couple stuck behind him). Anyway, I wish him a good run!!

    Rockstar, do you have any favorite from the Republican camp?

  10. avatar Ali says:

    I personally hope either Obama or someone else to win – but definitely NOT Hillary.

  11. avatar Naga says:

    Obama is a lightweight and he will never be able to win the southern states, Americans don’t vote for black people in case you didn’t notice..

    Hilary is much more of a threat, she’s smart and ruthless, but has a poor public image (thanks to business scandals, not to mention her ‘husband’), provided she can generate plenty of campaign funds (via Bill) she will have a serious shot at winning the title.

  12. avatar Riccardo says:

    The Republicans, and even his rivals in the Democratic party, are going to crucify him in the heat of the campaign. They will drudge up every little detail.

    And further:

    ….attended a Muslim school in Indonesia, a “madrassa”, when living here as a child, and suggested that he attempted to conceal the fact, that further, he may still be a closet Muslim and sympathetic to the Muslim radical cause.

    If these people are trying to say he is an Al-Qaeda plant that’s just silly. Even THEY are not stupid enough to think every detail of his will not be scrutinized down to the tiniest mistake. If Qaeda or another group was trying to get someone elected, it would be a far better strategy if they’d have just taken an “acceptable” W.A.S.P-looking person and turned him — by brainwashing, carrot$ and/or stick.

    The KGB knew that, the Mossad and CIA still do. Would anyone think the Mossad is going to put a nice Jew boy up for president in a Muslim country? Not gonna happen. They take a local guy and turn him, then he runs for PM or president or whatever suits them at the time.

    The cynic in me says even Obama knows he doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades, but what he and I do know is that there are several million dollars in “campaign funding” that will be tossed his way.

  13. avatar Rockstar says:

    Jon,

    For the president candidate, maybe Giuliani.
    But I like Sen. Mitch McConnell as a person as well.

  14. avatar Grace and Mercy says:

    I saw a news report on CNN last night about this. He actually went to SDN Besuki in Jl. Besuki, Menteng.

  15. avatar Joy says:

    Rockstar,
    I like Giuliani, too. I don’t know about Sen. Mitch McConnel (I am from Texas).
    Will keep them in mind come election day.

  16. avatar Ade says:

    I saw a news report on CNN last night about this. He actually went to SDN Besuki in Jl. Besuki, Menteng.

    And if you noticed, SDN Besuki is a public school, not a Moslem school. Since most of the students are Moslem, in Indonesian public school, they teach Islamic religion, but the non-Moslem can still learn their own religion separated from their Moslem friends.

  17. avatar David says:

    If the election was held today, no way I’d vote for Osama Obama or Hilary – both smooth talkers but lightweights when it comes to defense/national defense. My vote goes to Duncan Hunter for President.

  18. avatar 1ndra says:

    Yes I see his ‘bad’ side, a black, a Muslim and an Indonesian product.
    What a lucky day in a narrow minded country. 😀

  19. avatar Ali says:

    Well not so quick, 1ndra – he’s not a Muslim.

  20. avatar 1ndra says:

    Not so Muslim Ali, but at least he’s been declared as ‘Muslim doctrined’. 😀

  21. avatar Pmunaan says:

    Just a piece of history. All US Presidents (past and present) have been WASP and male with the exception of perhaps Van Buren, the two Roosevelts and Eisenhower whose names sound somewhat Dutch to me. Kennedy was Catholic and they shot him.

    The British had Disraeli who was Jewish and Maggie Thatcher. The French had a Jewish PM in the 30’s. The Soviets, of course, had Leon Trotsky.

    I used to remember when they used to say that you have to be Javanese, Muslim and male to be Prez of Indo. The fact is neither Habibie and Megawati fit that category.

    It’ll be the day when the US gets a Prez who is black or female or non Protestant (definitely not a Jew or a Muslim). So don’t bet on Obama or Mrs. Clinton or Giuliani, they may be good but they aren’t WASP male.

    Well, I guess this is one area where I think we are more progressive than the US, at least we had a female Prez.

  22. avatar sgn says:

    Well, I guess this is one area where I think we are more progressive than the US, at least we had a female Prez.

    It sounds like, we are better than American because we speak English but they don’t speak Indonesian.

    😉

  23. avatar Dimp says:

    I just don’t get it, why we are always proud that we have a female President, again it shows that Indonesian only look at “kulit” and not “isi”. The real democracy doesn’t consider race, gender, religion, they decide based on merit.

  24. avatar Grace and Mercy says:

    I just don’t get it, why we are always proud that we have a female President, again it shows that Indonesian only look at “kulit” and not “isi”. The real democracy doesn’t consider race, gender, religion, they decide based on merit.

    I agree!! I would be proud of a GOOD President regardless of race, gender, religion.

  25. I read the comments with great interest, because it’s important to know what Indonesians think about a potential “Indonesian” US president.

    The importance for Indonesia, and the rest of the world, is this: when was the last time the United States had a president who had actually lived overseas (and I don’t mean only Bill Clinton in the UK when he was at Oxford!). Senator Obama had a Kenyan Muslim father, and spent four years living in Indonesia. That kind of background gives him insights and sensitivities to cultures outside the USA that other presidential candidates simply don’t have. That kind of exposure is very important; had George Bush lived in Indonesia for four years, we would not have the Iraq War today (of that I am convinced). It is the blindness of American leaders when it comes to cultures and ideas outside the US that has led the country into so many foreign policy blunders. Sen. Obama will obviously have a better take on Islam, on Asia, on Southeast Asia, and of course on Indonesia in particular, than any other candidate so far. I have no idea how he will perform on domestic US issues, but I feel confident he would handle foreign policy issues a lot more intelligently.

    I don’t think he is an expert on Asia or Indonesia or Islam; don’t get me wrong. But his mind will not be closed. It’s already been opened.

  26. avatar 1ndra says:

    True Peter, we need an open minded leader to solve the conflict problems, the one that isn’t sideweighted.

  27. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Peter Levenda,

    That kind of background gives him insights and sensitivities to cultures outside the USA that other presidential candidates simply don’t have. That kind of exposure is very important; had George Bush lived in Indonesia for four years, we would not have the Iraq War today (of that I am convinced).

    Are you sure, Peter? You know it yourself, that the leaders of the more or less democratic states cannot decide everything themselves 100%-ly. They have to consider the wishes and the views of the nation, not only of their supporters. Maybe Obama would have a better take of Islam, but what about the other? Would he able to resist the pressure?

    Yes I see his ‘bad’ side, a black, a Muslim and an Indonesian product.
    What a lucky day in a narrow minded country.

    Btw: Indonesia waits for the first (female or male) president, which is not “indigenous”. Maybe Indonesia will have then more open minded view? 🙂

  28. avatar Ihaknt says:

    One word about our female president ibu Mega, HOPELESS! She didn’t do much, and the country seemed to come to a halt when she ruled. Oh hang on, isn’t it about the same now?

  29. avatar 1ndra says:

    Indonesia waits for the first (female or male) president, which is not “indigenous”. Maybe Indonesia will have then more open minded view?

    We should sign up for the next election Tom. 😀

  30. avatar Tomaculum says:

    Would you be my first supporter? Hope not the only one! 🙂

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