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Cablegate: Indonesian Mps Praise Intl Visitor Program, Cite

VZCZCXRO7707
RR RUEHCHI RUEHDT RUEHHM
DE RUEHJA #3198 3180249
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 140249Z NOV 06
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 2054
INFO RUEHZS/ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS
RUEHJA/ISLAMIC CONFERENCE COLLECTIVE

UNCLAS JAKARTA 013198

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: OEXC SCUL KPAO KISL PREL ID
SUBJECT: INDONESIAN MPS PRAISE INTL VISITOR PROGRAM, CITE
TROUBLING WAHHABI INFLUENCE AMONG AMERICAN MUSLIMS


This cable is sensitive but unclassified; please protect
accordingly.

1. (SBU) Summary. Poloffs recently debriefed four members
of the Indonesian House of Representatives who participated
in the International Visitor Leadership Program, &The U.S.
Political System,8 from August 7 ) 25, 2006. In their
visits to cities and towns throughout the United States, the
participants met with a diverse group of Americans and
American organizations. The participants stressed that this
trip showed them that the real strength of the US is not its
government or military, but its people. It is troubling to
note, however, that one of the participants, a member of the
conservative Muslim Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), felt that
many American Muslims seemed ashamed of and embarrassed about
their country. He also posited that there seemed to be too
much of a Wahhabi influence on the American Muslim community,
noting that he was concerned by the level of intolerance and
inflexibility he encountered at a mosque in Seattle. End
Summary.

2. (U) From August 7) 25, 2006, five members of the
Indonesian House of Representatives participated in the
International Visitor Leadership Program, &The U.S.
Political System.8 While in the United States, the
participants visited Washington, DC; Rochester, New York;
Grand Island, Nebraska; Oklahoma City; and Seattle. During
their visit they met with various government agencies,
nongovernmental organizations, politicians, and other
individuals.

3. (U) The visitors agreed that the most interesting parts
of their visit were those that occurred outside of
Washington, DC, particularly their trips to rural areas and
small towns. In fact, they singled out Nebraska several
times as the highlight of their visit. They commented that
the home hospitality component was wonderful. In Nebraska,
the group was especially touched when their hosts held a
celebration for Indonesian Independence Day. As a result of
these experiences, they feel they have gotten a real sense of
the U.S. from ordinary Americans, which they believe is
different from the U.S. that is projected by our foreign
policy. The real strength of the U.S. is not its government
or military, they said, but its people.

4. (U) They commented that because they believe it is
important for younger Indonesian MPs to understand the United
States and how it works, they hoped that in the future more
MPs could be sent on the IVLP. They also purchased and
brought home bags of U.S. history books and compact discs
that they plan to share. They found a number of
commonalities between the U.S. and Indonesia that they hoped
others would see, notably a history of multiculturalism. One
participant is even planning to introduce a curriculum on
political participation that he found in the United States
into his Islamic boarding school.

5. (U) Although they were not scheduled to visit New York
City, the visitors pushed hard to get the partner
organization, Delphi International, to permit them to do so
that they could visit Ground Zero. While there, the men )
who are all Islamists ) visited the site to pray.

6. (SBU) In commenting on his interactions with American
Muslims, one of the Islamist participants commented that
American Muslims seemed embarrassed about being Americans,
which troubled him. He didn,t think that they had any
reason to be ashamed, and wanted to tell them that &this is
your country and these are your people.8 He also remarked
that there seemed to be too much Saudi influence on the
American Muslim community, which was particularly noticeable
in the Seattle mosque he visited. According to him, the
teaching at this mosque was ¬ flexible.8 In his view,
American Muslims could benefit from more interaction with
Indonesian Muslims, who are generally more moderate than
Saudis. The participants suggested that there be a sort of
reverse IVLP program that would bring Indonesian Muslims on
visits with the American Muslim community, and send American
Muslims to Indonesia to interact with their counterparts here.
PASCOE

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