Assalamu’alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.
Alhamdulillah wasshalatu wassalaamu 'ala Rasulillaah. Waba'du.
I prepared this speech specially to welcome the arrival of President Barrack Hussein Obama. I really welcomed his arrival to Indonesia that was postponed till twice for the reason of the domestic situation in the United States.
As the good host, we must honour whoever the guest is, who came to our country, including Obama that personally indeed had the memory of the past in this country. His arrival of course also is nostalgia for him.
Welcomed the guest generously and the well-mannered attitude is the way that is practiced in the Indonesian Archipelago for centuries. An attitude that taught the ability to hold a dialogue and sharing.
I am certainly sure that Obama, as the person who had lived in Indonesia, understood what Indonesia is. Obama personally wrote in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, that he thanks to God for his life experience in Indonesia as a long adventure and the gift for the life of a child. Of course, this was the nostalgic expression, but more than that, little Obama learned to sharp the empathy and the sensitivity of humanity from reality of the Indonesian community.
One of the valuable points from Obama was his ability to gain his identity that is rooted from diversity background. This diversity, in the US context, is often attributed in a derogatory manner with term "mulato tragedy ".
Obama personally has many races and the cultures root. Because of this, according to me, the Obama success in becoming US President was not only the achievement of democracy, but is also the achievement of humanity. In the Indonesian context, we have all reasons to formulate Indonesian that considered the diversity.
This is not easy, but not impossible while we seriously strive for that.
We see, in many chances, Obama often said and stressed the importance of tolerance among humankind. Difference is not the reason for the conflict and the violence, but precisely became the reason for knowing each other.
This is the principle so called ta’aruf on Al Quran in mentioning the process of humankind's ethnically-divided. There tolerance was the foundation for the association and humankind's friendship that were united by the humanity.
Today, as we see, Islam in the eyes of international is connoted with the violence and terrorism. This point of view not only irritates the majority Muslims, but also led thoughts of many international public astray in knowing what actually Islam.
We are appropriate to be grateful, Barrack Obama came with the clear view. He often said that he doesn’t hate Islam, he hated Al Qaeda. Hatred to Al Qaeda only for their cruelty.
Beside, I hope US policies in the future could straighten out the image and the US role in the eyes of Moslems. We know, many of US foreign policies disappoint Islam world and the international community.
The example that often and easy to mention is several policies that were related to Israel, Palestine, Afghanistan, or in other words the Middle East policies. Including also is the monetary US policy that is potentially causes the international economic gap.
US often applying the double standard in the formulation and the execution of his policies. In one-side, US campaign for democracy in the level of the discourse, but on the other side precisely many practices that opposite the values of democracy.
In the example of the Israel-Palestine case, for example, we could ask why the US Government only is quiet to the oppression to the Palestinian community, while the Israeli interests were held a brief for? The other example is the civil war in Afghanistan.
Naturally the US might not intervenes this problem by sending the military forces. In my opinion, the civil war in Afghanistan was their own problems. The resolution is precisely more effective if initiated by them. The US involvement did not resolve the problem, but could precisely increase and widen the scale of the conflict.
Here, I must stress that we had not hated the USA, but we did not like several US policies that opened the conflict and the economic gap in the international community.
At this time, there still time for the US to return and fix up the reputation in the eyes of Moslems. This opportunity is marked with increasingly the number of leading figure’s efforts of moderate Muslim to put forward the Islam face that is friendly, inclusive, and plural. Islam has no single face or monolithic.
The difference is something inherent in the historicity of Islam civilization. The difference is processed in order to enrich the horizon of the view and thought.
Therefore, I hope the Obama arrival this time can increase Indonesia-US relations in equal partnership.
The sake of this chance is to afford the advantage for the people. The success of relations of the two countries was very influential not only for Indonesia or the US, but also for the climate of the international community's dialogue. If good partnership relations could be realized, the Obama phenomenon will be in accordance with his name personally: barrack that means the blessing.(bil)
Prof. Dr. KH. Said Aqil Siradj
General Chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama