Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Hillary Clinton Gets Mixed Reaction In Indonesia; Reaches Out To Muslims While They Protest And Throw More Shoes

The AP points out that 190 of the 235 million Indonesians practise a moderate form of Islam.

We wonder what the other 45 million practice? Radical Islam maybe?

"Allāhu Akbar" God is Great

The AP reports:

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pledged a new American openness to ideas from abroad, especially the Muslim world, during a visit Wednesday to Indonesia.

Anti-U.S. protests were held in several cities, with some Islamic hard-liners setting tires on fire and others throwing shoes at caricatures of Clinton, but the rallies were small and scattered.

Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation, is the second stop in Clinton's inaugural overseas trip as the top U.S. diplomat. She said that was "no accident," with the trip designed to show support for the country's hard-won democracy as well as its efforts to fight terrorism while respecting human rights.

Steps were already being taken to improve relations, she said, announcing at a joint press conference with Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda that Peace Corps operations were expected to resume here after a long absence.

Peace Corps volunteers last served in Indonesia from 1963 until 1965. They were expelled after leftists accused them of being spies.

Clinton also indicated that more development aid was on the way.

The LA Times points out, however, that Clinton must be aware that The Peace Corps is a touchy subject in Indonesia.

Clinton may think that sending aid workers to Indonesian villages is a good use of "smart power" that would include "the full range of tools at our disposal -- diplomatic, economic, military, political, legal and cultural," as she told the senators.

But she must be careful not to stir up resentments by pushing a mainly symbolic move, said Theodore Friend, an American expert on Indonesia.

"I think there is a slight to medium risk of inferred condescension," Friend said by telephone from Pennsylvania, where he is a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute think tank.

The reaction, he said, might be, "You still think of us as backward, developmentally retarded or something," because Indonesian officials would prefer to talk about matters such as the global financial crisis.

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