Hard-Line Islamic Groups React to Obama's Indonesia Visit
U.S. President Barack Obama is due to arrive in Indonesia today, a country with the largest Muslim population on earth. While most people here see his visit as a sort of homecoming and take pride in the fact that Obama spent four years living and studying in the country as a child, not everyone sees the visit in such a positive light.
On Sunday, two groups of hard-line Islamic fundamentalists protested outside the U.S. embassy in Jakarta. A few hundred protesters from the radical groups Hizb ut-Tahrir (HPI) and the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) shouted, "Obama comes, we crush." They carried posters with pictures of the president and banners with slogans such as "Do not add to Indonesia's grief," referring to a recent spate of natural disasters that have rocked the country.
Along with the prerequisite megaphones and banners, they also had a list of 10 demands they wanted to give to the president which included the standard requests to pull out of Afghanistan and Iraq and to cut all diplomatic ties with Israel.
Umum Ismael, a leader of the hard-line HPI, said, "Many people here see Obama as being more in touch with the Muslim world than previous U.S. presidents, especially Bush. But the truth is he's not. He only knows how to seem like he is, but he speaks out of both sides of his mouth, carrying out imperialist wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while trying to pretend he's is reaching out to Muslims in the press."
Ismael even went so far as to say that violence against the president would be completely justified: "Yes, it (violence) would be appropriate. He is wicked man. In Indonesia we kill people who kill others, yet he has killed so many people, thousands of people. Our government is very harsh against its own people who are alleged to be terrorists. They are killed. Yet Obama, who has killed so many Muslims, is welcomed here like a hero."