Center for Strategic Communication

by Chris Lundry

President Obama has now made his second trip in office to the land where he spent four years of his youth, Indonesia, while on a trip to Asia and Australia. Although Obama’s time in Indonesia was brief, he was welcomed relatively warmly by most Indonesians, who appreciate his ties to the most populous Muslim country. There are, however, plenty of people who disapproved, including the usual suspects, the Islamist extremists.

The trip is part of a plan to shore up ties and increase the US presence in Southeast Asia in order to balance a rising China, and in response to the previous administration’s general neglect of the region (one of the reasons China made such significant inroads there in the last decade). Obama also announced plans to increase the US military presence in Australia, which irked China. The disputes in the South China Sea — the Spratly and Paracel Islands — and China’s increasing assertiveness are certainly part of the decision to increase the US presence there.

Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia staged a protest at the American embassy prior to his visit. Although their website listed the number of demonstrators as 20,000, other sources gave estimates from hundreds to 2500.

“Why Obama (must be) Shot” is the title of a story on the ar Rahmah extremist web site. The image accompanying the story is one they and others have used before — Obama as pharaoh, invoking a strong Islamist narrative of tyranny and injustice. The caption reads “Pharaoh of this time, demon predator of Muslims.” The article goes on to repeatedly refer to Obama as a “crusader,” another powerful narrative — although an explanation of how he can be both a pharaoh and a crusader at the same time is lacking.

The articlH cites Oscar Ortega Hernandez, the 21-year-old who fired shots at the White House last week. Although Pennsylvania police stated that he was mentally disturbed (he told friends that Obama is the anti-Christ, so I guess he does have more than one thing in common with the extremists), the “psychologists” at ar Rahmah give him a clean bill of health:

Funny thing is the Pennsylvania police who arrested Oscar alleged that he suffered mental illness and was reported missing by his family since last week. Yet if you look at the published photos of Oscar, of course anyone would argue that Oscar is not mentally handicapped, but rather very healthy and very aware of what he did, namely to shoot Obama!

Not sure what they will make his tattoo of the word “Israel” — his young son’s name — on Ortega’s neck, however.

According to ar Rahmah, the plan to station Marines in Australia is simply a pretext to begin a crusade against Indonesian Muslims. In agreement with the English extremist group Muslims Against Crusades (a group recently banned by the British government), the assassination of Obama is allowed because of his execution of two Muslim heroes: Osama bin Laden and Anwar al Awlaki.

Jailed extremist leader Abu Bakar Basyir concurs. In another story on ar Rahmah, Basyir argues that because he is the leader of a crusade started by his predecessor, Obama must be fought. Voice of Islam posted a story arguing that Obama was in Indonesia to attempt to “Christianize” the country.

While Obama was in Bali, there was a 5.3 earthquake. Ar Rahmah pinpointed the cause of the earthquake, however: when Obama greeted the Indonesian First Lady Ani Yudhoyono, he (“ferociously”) kissed her on the cheek. It’s another attempt to link a natural disaster with some kind of moral transgression, something Indonesian Islamist extremists do frequently, just as Christian extremists do here in the US.

As usual, ar Rahmah posted a link to their website on Facebook. In a country of around 240,000,000, with around 30,000,000 Facebook users (ranking second in the world), the article about the earthquake received 139 “likes,” 21 “shares,” and 39 comments, including one brave soul who cautioned that posting stories such as this one can make Muslims appear to be provocateurs. In a new democracy with newly found freedoms of press and expression, Indonesia’s extremists continue to test the boundaries. Calling for the assassination of a visiting head of state is apparently within those boundaries. Thankfully the number of supporters of this group are small, and none chose to act on the call to violence.