According to his national security aide “the president is very much looking forward to his visit“, which is “standard protocol” and will give Obama a chance to have a “bit of a check-in” with the Muslim world after his “much lauded” Egypt speech.
President Obama will also celebrate “Hero’s Day” commemorating “the Battle of Surabaya, in which Indonesian soldiers defeated British and Dutch troops to win the nation’s independence in 1945″.
But he won’t visit a Sikh temple in India because he’s afraid the headgear will make him look like a Muslim.
Okay Barack, if you say so.
(Politico) — President Barack Obama will visit one of the world’s largest mosques when he makes good on a long-delayed promise to visit Indonesia, the island nation where he lived briefly as a child.
The president will visit Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta — the largest mosque in Southeast Asia and the third largest Muslim house of worship in the world — during his swing through the country Nov. 9-10. Islam is the dominant religion in populous Indonesia, making it the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation.
White House national security aide Ben Rhodes said the visit is standard protocol for Obama, who visited the famed Blue Mosque while on a visit to Turkey shortly after his inauguration. “When he visited Muslim-majority countries as president, he has often visited the most prominent mosques,” Rhodes said.
The president’s high-profile visit, however, could stoke the heated confrontation over the Park51 Project, an Islamic cultural center and mosque planned for a site just north of where the World Trade Center towers fell in Manhattan on Sept. 11. In August, Obama roiled the simmering debate when he declared that Muslims have a legal right to build the cultural center — a statement which angered opponents who saw the center as an affront to victims and rescue workers who died on Sept. 11 — but he later said he didn’t think building the cultural center was a good idea.
Rhodes cautioned against linking Obama’s statement about the Park51 Project and his visit to the Jakarta mosque. “I would not conflate the two,” he said. “When we planned to go to Indonesia in March, we planned to go to this same mosque.”
Obama had called off his first visit to Indonesia to focus on passing the stalled health care bill, and he canceled a rescheduled visit in the aftermath of the BP-Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill Gulf of Mexico in April.
“The president is very much looking forward to this opportunity,” Rhodes said.
After a tour through India, the Indonesia leg of the president’s trip to Asia will kick off on Nov. 9, when Obama meets with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Jakarta. An official state dinner will follow that night.
The next day, the president will celebrate “Hero’s Day,” an Indonesian holiday. It commemorates the Battle of Surabaya, in which Indonesian soldiers defeated British and Dutch troops to win the nation’s independence in 1945. The president will lay a wreath at a cemetery and then visit the Istiqlal Mosque, followed by a speech in a yet-to-be-determined venue.
Rhodes said Obama will discuss the “close ties” of the two countries, as well as American outreach to the Muslim world and Indonesia’s success as a democracy. He’ll also touch on his own childhood in Indonesia. It’ll be a big crowd, as Obama is “very popular” because of his biography and policies, Rhodes said.
“He wanted to have the opportunity to reach more Indonesian people,” he said. And it’ll be “a bit of a check-in” with the Muslim world after the president’s much-lauded speech at Cairo University in June 2009.
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