Michelle Obama Starts Furor By Touching Indonesian Minister

An Indonesian government minister shook hands with Michelle Obama yesterday, violating his religious commitment to not touching women. Now he blames the First Lady.

According to the NY Daily News, Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring has in the past refused to shake a female journalist's hand — his observance of Islam prohibits him from touching women not in his family. He has also blamed Indonesia's natural disasters on the country's "sins," such as producing porn (this particular blame game is
also popular with Christian fundamentalists in America). Now Indonesians are calling him a hypocrite for his handshake with Michelle Obama, and he's taken to Twitter to explain himself: "I tried to prevent (being touched) with my hands but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me (so) we touched." It's a little hard to tell from video footage of the greeting, but it doesn't seem like she's forcing herself on him:

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DISCUSSION

cisum88note
cisum88note

In any case, it's clearly his fault, and not hers. There's no way she could have known about his personal religious beliefs, and it was up to him to "protect" those beliefs, not her.

Also, I seem to remember Obama getting a lot of flack for bowing to the Japanese and Bush getting flack for holding hands with a Saudi prince, so you can't say that American leaders always push their beliefs on everyone else.