Indonesia offers hope to Obama

June 4, 2009 at 6:55 AM
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JAKARTA, June 4 (UPI) -- Indonesia, the largest Islamic nation, may be a key to help U.S. President Barack Obama's reach his goal of a new start with the Muslim world, analysts say.

Success for Obama, who spoke to the Muslim world Thursday while visiting Egypt, would be measured by how he earns the trust of the Muslims, CNN reported.

Afifa Loutfie, a 23-year-old college student in Jakarta, told CNN that President Obama, on whom she wrote a college paper, could win that trust.

"I just think that he needs to say that he really tries hard to rebuild this trust and that Muslim countries should at least trust him more than the previous presidents ... he can make this happen because at least there is one person at the head of this country that is willing to do that unlike the previous presidents," Loutfie said.

She said the time Obama spent in Indonesia as a child would assure her peers that he knows more about life outside the developed world.

Political analyst Dewi Fortuna told CNN the United States can also look to Indonesia, the world's third largest democracy, for tackling terrorism as that country has faced a number of terrorist attacks as well fighting its own domestic terror groups.

"The Indonesian government has taken a rather controversial approach but it seems to work in trying to engage with the terrorists and with their families. Put them back in school, get them jobs," Fortuna said.

Other analysts said Indonesia is one of a few countries where there is no clash between Islam and democracy. They said people there would be willing give Obama a chance to make genuine progress.

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