Barack Obama

Jan 21st, 2007, in News, 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. 1ndra says:

    We’ll fight each other dude, the rules are no dirty tricks and money talks.

  2. Tomaculum says:

    OK, let our charms decide!!! I love it!! 🙂 🙂

  3. Andrew says:

    I’d say Achmad Sudarsono should run for president.


  4. Dimp says:

    Maybe he is one already.

    Also on this note I would like to declare my intention to run for the 2009 Elections.

    My goal is to get every Indonesians to be able to get a “dancing pants”. These pants will be automated, so every people will be able to dance like professionals, they will be powered by solar panels so it is very environmental-friendly. They will be equipped with “bad behaviour” sensors so when anyone tried to act unlawfully, the pants will freeze and they won’t be able to move, making them the laughing stock of the other “dancers”.

    I will also change the name of our country to “In-dance-sia”

  5. Tomaculum says:

    Ihaknt :
    she did much for Indonesia with her speechlessness! Imagine what could happen if she said more!
    🙂 🙂

  6. Spirit Walker says:

    I believe Obama is the most confident speaker I have ever had the pleasure of hearing & seeing. Besides the words, his body language is conferming his statements. OH what a change from the current goverment representatives (ALL OF THEM).

    I just truely hope the voters in this country do not do whats so typical for us all to do, on some level as americans and that is become so buizzy whith our lives Then notice the road has taken a wrong turn,then ban together make necessary adjustments to start back on right coarse then get buizzy again and asume it will all be ok from there. We must encourage each other to stay focused on the goverment. And I know Obama is a politician and I dont trust him 100%.

    However I would feel proud to have him speak for this country.

    The citizens of this country (the majority) are honest – look a man in the eye – kind of people, I am convinced Obama is also.

  7. Diederick says:

    I have lived some year in Indonesia, and this public schools are not at all madrassas. They are just regular schools, the fanatics would not send their children to this schools. Of course Indonesia is a very old fashioned country so the curriculum of these schools will be a bit shaky. But on the other hand Obama will have had a enormous experience, unlike when he would have attended a international school there.
    Furthermore there is a mistake in his biography of Obama. When he was living in Indonesia his mother (divorced from her former Kenyan spouse), was married to an Indonesian.

  8. Tira Hamid says:

    I’m very proud if one day OBAMA would be the president of United States. I wonder where Maya is now and my dream is to see Obama and his family and hopefully that Obama would change the image of Muslim Country such as Indonesia.

    Besuki is not madrasah and not Muslim school but use Muslim as the basic just like my school SD Tjokroaminoto in Menteng too.

    VOTE FOR OBAMA and would love to baby sit his children.

  9. Anita says:

    I think Obama has a better perspectives about developing countries, and knows better that pelople in developing countries are human being too. Not only Americans.

  10. Rex D. Lores says:

    America, at the dawn of the 21st century, is the lone superpower. Its politics and political leadership cast a long shadow over world affairs, and the policies that emanate from the White House can have a strong and decisive influence on global issues.

    Thus, while the U.S. presidency belongs formally to Americans, the man or woman who occupies the Oval Office becomes the de facto leader of all peoples aspiring to freedom, peace and economic stability.

    As a Filipino, I have watched with increasing dismay as Mr. Bush and the Republicans mismanaged and caricatured the promise of America. As we all struggle to respond to the problems of terrorism, genocide in Africa, the dilemma of the Middle East, poverty and insurgency in Asia, there is an urgent need for an American leader who can re-kindle the universal hope that ours can be a better world.

    The charismatic Barack Obama– in his words and in his vision — moves us towards this hope. He has the integrity, the intellect, and the character to be both an American president and a genuine leader of the world.

    America, please vote for Barack Obama.

  11. Giulio says:

    This is ridiculous; Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world. Just because Barack may be a muslim, doesn’t mean that he’s a terrorist. This is ignorant jargon

  12. Jeff Horn says:

    Well think about it Hilary Clinton promised healthcare to all Americans and didn’t deliver years ago when she was first lady. Why would anyone think things would be different now if she were elected?? If Americans Barack Obama knew about his attending a Muslim school they would probably be very paranoid about it, even though he was in the 5th grade. Reason being is most of us are ignorant and not that educated(despite popular beliefs). The only wild card is maybe it didn’t get enough press and Americans are so busy working long hours that he could slip by and win. Its a dicey situation for the Obama camp…but probably the most deciding wild card factor that could determine the whole election. Thats probably why they posted it up here, it could have great historical signifigance.

  13. Peter Sprang says:

    For two years I have spent most of my time in Jakarta and I thought I am well informed but only today I learned that Obama had spent a few of his childhood years here. What a great experience for Obama! He must have found people in Jakarta very tolerant! At least this past Christmas time it was clear to see how this Muslim society accepts and to some extend even participates in other religious festive seasons. One the news you read that people are afraid of attacks on churches but the churches were packed and the one I went to could do with two policemen at the gate not checking half as carefully as they do at the international hotels. It stayed peaceful and in practice I felt it to be natural and honest how Muslims wish Christians a “Salamat Natal”. And not only the shopping malls but even the small supermarket around the corner made their staff wear red Christmas hats and play Christmas music. None of the Muslims would make a statement or protest in front of the supermarket. It seemed everybody enjoys the change and entertaining aspect of it. In two years I have not met any Indonesian who would raise religion as a point of discussion. My impression is that people here in Jakarta certainly have not discovered Obama as a point of discussion either. There are bigger day to day issues facing this city: right now floods strike again and the rise of gas and cooking oil prices is tough on the lower income households. Something Obama will have to consider when it is time to set guidelines for the import of crude palm oil to meet his energy targets. The rate of conversion of (High Conservation Value) Forest into palm oil plantations is high and eco-certification of such plantations is just beginning.

  14. Mark says:

    Obama good, Hillary bad. I am a republican in the south, I of course would rather see a rupub. win but would not be upset to see obama win, I actually like the guy, and the fact that he lived in Indonesia (like the guy above said, a pretty tolerant country, I have many friends there muslim and christian, there’s little tension between religions) may make him better at understanding the plight of that part of the world (something bush doesn’t get). I don’t think he could be radical, does anyone out there even do the same things they did in the 5th grade? (or even remember 5th grade, Jeff Foxworthy makes it clear we don’t.)

    I think obama has a good shot at winning the election, as long as he beats hellary and doofys not in the white house anymore, I’ll be happy! Sampai bertemu lagi!

  15. Victor Pursang says:

    Mesdamess et Messieurs:
    The correspondence about barack shows Americans are mostly ignorant of the world but fortunately you have a few that are understanding and well-informed.
    One questions remains to be answered : Did he return to the USA because he had to follow his mom or did he correctly surmised that Indonesia is not a country you can thrive in.
    Also why haven’t we seen a good picture of his mom so far.
    I lived in Indonesia for 28 years but thank god now live in Canada!

  16. Rafly says:

    Barrack Obama ?

    In fact, Are America people dont have choice.
    after :

    1. Bush clone
    2. Clinton clone ( ??? )

    poor America’s people…

    Keep Fight Obama

  17. Lystia says:

    How come having an islamic based education is suddenly so profoundly significant. Obama spilled it himself that he’s not a really religious person anyways, right?
    So how come this such thing has been an issue to talk about?
    Having 90% Muslim in the country does not mean that we will be “indoctrinated in extremist Muslim ideolog”.
    Come on we’re better than that, we’re an extreme democrats also!

  18. Joseph Erwin says:

    I am an American, born in California, and living in Pennsylvania. I have been to Indonesia about 20 times, between 1985 and 2000, spending most of my time there in various parts of Sulawesi, but also going to other areas, including Jawa Barat, Jawa Tengah, Surabaya, Bali, Lombok, Sumba, Ambon, Kalimantan, and other places. I met many wonderful people there, from diverse backgrounds, traditions, religions, cultures, etc. I am pleased that some of these people are continuing friends. Sadly, I have lost touch with others, but I think of them often and maintain high regard for them. Through these people, and through direct experience in many parts of Indonesia, I am aware that not everyone there loves everyone else. There are some deeply based rivalries and hatreds, and that is sad. But I can say that I was always treated with respect and consideration, with only a few minor exceptions that meant nothing. My attitude toward Indonesia and Indonesians is very positive. I must say, however, that most Americans are COMPLETELY ignorant of Indonesia. They do not even know where it is. The level of ignorance in America is ASTONISHING! I am supportive of Obama for President of the USA, not just because he actually knows where the fourth most populous nation in the world is, but that helps. That he probably remembers some Bahasa Indonesia, is cool too. He is aware of some other cultures at a depth that is uncommon in our leaders. I think he is inspiring and bright. Amazing! A candidate who can write! Of course, Bill and Hillary are also literate and bright. All in stark contrast to our current President. I am hoping for the best. At present, Obama has made a very strong showing and has widespread support. We still have some racist bigots in America, but we are not ALL that way, and maybe enough are now able to recognize talent and merit that we can elect someone who is remarkably inspiring.

  19. Odinius says:

    The racist bigots “won’t vote fer no woman either.” 🙂

    I think it’s great that the possible next president used to live in Indonesia. It’s good for Indonesia, no doubt, but it’s just generally good to have the most powerful person in the world be well acquainted with what life is like in the developing world.

  20. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    It was highly likely that Barrack Obama had come in contact with some wise Javanese men during his growing up years in Java. Hopefully he get into White House and promote Javanese brotherhood to the Jews and Arabs.

  21. Suradiparlan says:

    Come on man…. we Indonesian consider the state run school as secular school and even for those schooling there the whole life we do not believe that he/she will graduate as religious ( any religion ), this is due to the government run school teach very limited religious lessons…. maybe Obama should go to communist run school in order not to be suspected as islamist

  22. Obama’s in the lead. Whoo hooo… That means USA citizens (well, at least Democrats) are not ignorant after all. It’s good to know that Obama could be USA’s next president. We could use an open-minded and literate leader like him. Not a president whose favorite childhood story was The Very Hungry Caterpillar (I’ve read Michael Moore’s Stupid White Men, and he said that book wasn’t even published until a year after the recent prez’s graduated from college) :)) Hillarious. We need a leader whose childhood toys weren’t guns (well, recent prez’s old man IS kind of fond of weapons). Maybe that’s why he loves war. No wonder many people hate Americans. Cos most people tend to see the leader as the example. And this isn’t fair for Americans for most of them are decent people. Anyway, I wish him good luck, and hopefully, when he eventually visit Indonesia, he’ll be visiting as THE PRESIDENT OF USA.

  23. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    I will be writing a letter to Barrack Obama in Bahasa Jovo soon.

    Like myself, he posseses the same charisma and good-look as all Javanese leaders and heroes. Something tells me once he is nominated, he will promote ‘Javanese brotherhood’ as a universal social concept. My letter will carry suggestion of sending Javanese Walis (like The Wali Songo) to broker peace in the Middle East, pre-emptive strike on Arab nations to save our Brown sisters, amongst others. Another other suggestions from IM readers will be much appreciated.

  24. Hadz says:


    Is this like a big issue? No.

    Obama lived in Indonesia when he was little, and he also attended a Catholic School. Yes, his father is a Muslim, but that doesn’t mean he is a very religious Muslim, in fact, his father is not..

    I mean, come on, not all Muslims are bad.. Some Muslims are just sick, but not entirely all of them. There are also Christians and Catholics and people with other religions who are just as sick, and the amount can be larger, even..

    Whenever people stereotype the Muslims, it’s so silly it makes me laugh..

    Do you want me to stereotype the Americans? Like oh, they are dumb and so stupid! Because that is how outsiders sometime stereotype them.. But that doesn’t mean all Americans are dumb..

    I am a Muslim, and I am an Indonesian.. Though I’m still 13, I understand very well this stereotyping issue..

    I live in the Netherlands, and people here think Muslims are like so bad, I know how it feels that people are like scared of me. It hurts my feelings, I’m in an International School, so that adds to my misery.

    Please think again before you stereotype and state your statements here saying how Obama will be a terrorist.. Do you expect me to be someday, a person who is going to blow the Empire State Building, or.. oh, oh, the Eiffel Tower! That’s really retarded.. XD

  25. Hadz 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.

    Aww… XD But the fact is that today (21st Feb 08) in the news, they say that Obama has a bigger chance to win now than Clinton..

    I seriously think that Obama will be a better president, if he wins, then he who is black and with a little Muslim background who knows how really awful it is to be stereotyped badly especially in a place like the States, maybe he can help with the stereotype of the Muslims! Lol..

    If Hillary wins, maybe the Iraq War will be much and MUCH worse.. And all Muslims and Blacks and those other people who they stereotype to be bad are going to be much and MUCH more cornered..

  26. Teng says:

    I live in the Netherlands, and people here think Muslims are like so bad, I know how it feels that people are like scared of me. It hurts my feelings.

    Not all of us Dutchies think that way mate. 😉 The majority doesn’t hate muslims.

    … too bad the muslim-bashers in Holland have such a big mouth.. it’s like our own version of the FPI/MUI (but an atheistic one).

  27. Aluang Anak Bayang says:

    @ Hadz

    Do you have permission from your parents to post here? Isn’t it past bedtime for boys and girls in Holland?


  28. Lairedion says:

    “¦ too bad the muslim-bashers in Holland have such a big mouth.. its like our own version of the FPI/MUI (but an atheistic one)

    If Geert Wilders becomes the next perdana menteri of Holland, he will surely legalize a Front Pembela Atheis….

  29. Odinius says:

    “¦ too bad the muslim-bashers in Holland have such a big mouth.. it’s like our own version of the FPI/MUI (but an atheistic one).

    Man, you just hit on a pet peeve of mine…atheists who blast the religious for being dogmatic and then do not accept that there is a possibility they could be wrong about something no one can objectively prove. 🙂

  30. Teng says:

    If Geert Wilders becomes the next perdana menteri of Holland, he will surely legalize a Front Pembela Atheis”¦.

    No, Geert is a big fan of Judo-Christian culture… he just really hates islam.

    No way that guy will be perdana menteri… and if it does happen.. I might just leave Holland

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