In Indonesia, Many Rooting for an Obama Victory

October 14, 2008

Author: Michael Sullivan

Source: NPR

Indonesia is the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, and a place where America's image has been badly tarnished by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But Indonesians are keenly interested in the outcome of the U.S. presidential election, and they have a soft spot for Democrat Barack Obama, who spent part of his childhood there.

At the school Obama attended in the Menteng district of Jakarta, a security guard named Adang says he is a little tired of the reporters who come expecting to find an Islamic boarding school and evidence of Obama's secret Muslim identity — an image encouraged by some of Obama's political opponents in the United States.

It's not true, says Adang, who goes by one name. He points to Obama's third- and fourth-grade classrooms and says patiently that this is not an Islamic school.

"Yes, we have a mosque," he says, but at prayer time there are rooms for Christians and Buddhists to pray in, too. Public School No. 1 Menteng is actually among the city's finest, in one of Jakarta's most exclusive neighborhoods and home to many of Indonesia's business and political elite.