Obama had lived in Indonesia from 1967 to 1971, in the wake of the massive US-sponsored massacres of almost one million Indonesians following the US-supported coup of General Suharto. Yet, while Obama remembers well Muslim “tolerance” towards Christians, he seems to remember little of the US-imposed terror and American sponsorship of right-wing Indonesian Muslim groups to kill communists in the wake of the 1965 Suharto coup, an intolerance the US had engineered and called for since the 1950s, and which would expand later to Afghanistan and spill over to right-wing Islamist groups’ intolerance of Christians in places like Egypt (many of whose right-wing sectarian Islamists were recruited by the US for its anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan) to which Obama was now counselling tolerance.
Indeed, it is this same US-induced and supported intolerance that feeds the ongoing sectarian right-wing Islamist attacks on non-Sunni Muslims in Iraq (attacks that are depicted in the US media as an expression not of the US policy of sectarian agitation in Iraq, but on account of the indigenous “parochial” identities of Iraqis, which seem to have been unfortunately released by US-imposed “freedom”) and in Syria as well (in the latter case at least, with the full complicity of the Western press, if not Western governments, where sectarian attacks are being represented as part of the struggle for “democracy”).
The US has continued to be the hegemon over Indonesia for the last 47 years, not only under the murderous regime of Suharto which it helped bring to power in 1965, but also and especially during the post-Suharto “democratic” phase where neoliberal former army generals would be elected to the presidency in accords with US interests. The current President Susilo Bambana Yudhoyono (a retired army general trained in the United States and an accused war criminal for his military role during Indonesia’s US-supported genocidal occupation of East Timor), and his vice-president Boediono (former governor of the Bank of Indonesia and a Wharton School graduate), are the crowning efforts of US policy in the country. With such examples of tolerance, like the United States and Indonesia under US tutelage, Muslim-majority countries indeed have much to learn about tolerance and more so about intolerance.