Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Indonesia - All For Show: Muslim minister claims he was 'forced' to shake hands with Michelle Obama on visit

Indonesian information minister Tifatul Sembiring shakes hands with First Lady Michelle Obama as the Obamas arrive in Jakarta. Sembiring now insists it was 'forced'

Indonesian information minister Tifatul Sembiring shakes hands with the First Lady as the Obamas arrive in Jakarta. Sembiring now insists it was 'forced'

Because Obama is oblivious ~ doesn't mean that hardline fundamentalist Islam is not alive and kicking in ol'Moderate Indonesia!!

Indeed Obama is on his own if he wants us to respect this!!


In footage of the official welcome, Sembiring appeared to share his countrymen’s enthusiasm. He smiled broadly as he shook the president’s hand and then reached with both hands to grasp Michelle Obama’s. But later he said she forced their contact.

‘I tried to prevent [being touched] with my hands but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me [so] we touched,’ Sembiring tweeted.

An Indonesian politician has come under attack for shaking hands with Michelle Obama, swiftly resorting to Twitter to announce it as forced contact.

Tifatul Sembiring, the country’s information minister, flaunts his conservatism, and as a Muslim he claims to avoid touching women who aren’t related to him.

Indonesia - which has the world’s largest Islamic population, the vast majority moderate - had been debating how to handle encounters between the First Lady and observant Muslim officials far in advance of the Obamas’ arrival in the country.

Sembiring sought to deflect criticism by claiming that Tuesday’s skin-to-skin contact was all Michelle Obama’s fault.

‘I tried to prevent [being touched] with my hands but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me [so] we touched,’ Sembiring tweeted.

Footage on YouTube shows otherwise, sparking a debate that has lit up Facebook, Twitter and the rest of the blogosphere.

The minister was among the dignitaries in a receiving line that greeted President Barack Obama and his wife as they arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday - a homecoming of sorts for the president who spent part of his childhood here.

U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle walk down the red carpet as they arrive in Jakarta


U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle walk down the red carpet as they arrive in Jakarta

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and his wife Kristiani Herawati drink a toast at a state dinner to honour the Obamas



Indonesians gathered around television sets across the country to watch the American president touch down. Children at the school he attended practised a song dedicated to him just in case he visited.

In footage of the official welcome, Sembiring appeared to share his countrymen’s enthusiasm. He smiled broadly as he shook the president’s hand and then reached with both hands to grasp Michelle Obama’s. But later he said she forced their contact.

His denial was in a response to tweets from Indonesians who noted the handshake and questioned his long-standing claims that, as a good Muslim, he restricts his contact with women.

Many posts had a ‘gotchya’ quality to them.

One female journalist - who said the minister had refused to shake her hand - gleefully noted that now he would no longer be able to wriggle out of it.

Sembiring has often tweeted controversial comments, including blaming natural disasters on a lack of morality and joking about Aids.

Daily Mail

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