Obama made a visit to his childhood home in Indonesia yesterday, November 9, 2010. He had nothing but praise for Indonesia; proclaiming it to be a great country of tolerance. Obama recalled his Indonesian stepfather’s respect for all religions: “And while my stepfather, like most Indonesians, was raised a Muslim, he firmly believed that all religions were worthy of respect. In this way, he reflected the spirit of religious tolerance that is enshrined in Indonesia’s Constitution, and that remains one of this country’s defining and inspiring characteristics.”
Obama later continued “But even as this land of my youth has changed in so many ways, those things that I learned to love about Indonesia – that spirit of tolerance that is written into your Constitution; symbolized in your mosques and churches and temples; and embodied in your people – still lives on. Bhinneka Tunggal Ika – unity in diversity. This is the foundation of Indonesia’s example to the world, and this is why Indonesia will play such an important role in the 21st century.”
However, Obama is surely well aware that Sharia law, an Islamic based legal system, is taking hold in Indonesia. The Indonesian province of Aceh was the first to implement Sharia law in the entire province. In 2008 The Telegraph took a poll in Indonesia and found 52% favored Sharia law. Last year The Christian Post reported that more than 50 regencies in 16 of the 32 provinces in Indonesia have passed laws linked to sharia.
Sharia law requires penalties such as stoning to death persons who commit adultery, amputation of the hands of thieves, and execution for any Muslim who leaves the faith.
While praising this religious tolerance in Indonesia, Obama says we as Americans need to improve our relations with Muslim nations.