Obama visits Indonesia’s largest mosque

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

JAKARTA - US President Barack Obama Wednesday visited Indonesia’s largest mosque in a goodwill gesture to Muslims.

At the Istiqlal mosque, a vast, white, concrete structure topped with a large dome, Obama was shown a large drum used for the call to prayer, the prayer hall and the inside of the dome.

Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, wearing a chartreuse pantsuit and a headscarf adorned with gold beads and black fringe, were guided by Imam Haji Mustapha Ali Yaqub.

The president said Ali Yaqub pointed out that the mosque, the largest in South-East Asia in terms of capacity, stood next to a cathedral.

He said the imam told him that at Christmas, the mosque allowed the cathedral’s parishioners to use the mosque’s parking lot “because they don’t have enough facilities”.

“That’s an example of the kind of cooperation” between religions in Indonesia, Obama said.

Obama said Tuesday that his efforts to mend ties with the Muslim world were “on the right path” but acknowledged that the job was unfinished.

“I think that our efforts have been earnest, sustained,” Obama said at a press conference after talks with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Security issues, the president pledged, would not be the sole focus for the US as it moves ahead in building bridges with the Muslim world.

In a June 2009 speech in Cairo, Obama laid out his plans to repair Washington’s image in the Islamic world after it led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Filed under: Religion

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