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Bush and Indonesia Islam

Categories: East Asia, Indonesia, International Relations, Politics, Protest

If you watched CNN or BBC before and during Bush's visit to Indonesia, you would see a sea of protersters in Indonesia's capital, Jakarta with slogan of anti-Bush and to some extent, anti-American foreign policy. But with most female protesters were wearing Islamic clothes i.e. jilbab (Indonesian term for Islamic veil), it is easy for people on other parts of the world to think that's it's only those Muslim fundamentalists who were against Bush. As a matter of fact, it's not.

Barring a few–mostly conservative Christian minority, Indonesians are united in condemning Bush/US foreign policy, especially its post-9/11 pre-emptive policy that led to US wars in Afghanistan and especially Iraq which is regarded as sheer breach of a nation sovereignty and blatant show of arrogance.

Both conservative and moderate or even the so-called liberal Muslims intellectuals wrote critically against the US invasion in Iraq. Ulil Abshar-Abdalla, the founder of Jaringan Islam Liberal (JIL) [1] (Liberal Islam Network), for example, wrote at that time (the archive link is no longer available, unfortunately) that the invasion was sheer barbarity and telling example of US double-standard. Important to note here, that JIL, an organisation that focuses on Islamic issues from liberal/moderate Muslim point of view, is funded mostly by US money. Mr Ulil himself now is studying a PhD at Boston.

Andreas H Pareira, a Christian and MP from former president Megawati's PDIP party reported by Indonesia News Agency Antara as saying [2]: “Do not behave softly to the US, so as to not create an impression that we are a US puppet country.”

Berita Sore [3] daily, an evening newspaper from Medan, North Sumatra, quoting an east Indonesia political analyst Professor Muin Salim who said that Bush visit “in no way benefitting Indonesia.” [4]

Yet, Bush PR officers should not be too disappointed as Indonesia Ulama Council or MUI (Majelis Ulama Indonesia), infamous for its conservative opinions, is welcoming Bush with bear hug and regard his visit as “positive and beneficial.” [5]

So, from that background in mind, it's no wonder if Bush visit to Indonesia is facing many unflattered responses from various corners including from the Indonesian blogosphere.

For starter, Senopati Wirang at Intelijen Indonesia (Indonesian Intelligence) makes a lengthy posting on Bush's visit from different angles, particularly from intelligence perspective and intransparency of security officials statement, especially on the justifications behind the excessive use of security guards which he thinks too much exaggerated [6].

Tata Danamihardja at Buka Mulut does not seem to care of Bush visit and controversies surrounding his visit. Yet he's got something to complain to Indonesian security official as to why a US president visit has to make people sacrifice many imporartant things [7] including six billion rupiah (around USD six million), the temporary ban of street retailer and the temporary closure of many schools in the surrounding areas the US president wants to visit.

MicoKelana [8], however, thinks in more positive and prudent way [9]. Indonesian economy is worsening, he said. Bush visit, therefore, would make a positive signal: if head of the only superpower comes to Indonesia, so will the other countries. Hence, more investors.