The Obama family trip to Indonesia is somewhat of a working vacation. Barack Obama delivered a keynote speech to the 4th Indonesian Diaspora Congress in Jakarta on Saturday (July 1), where he preached about “respect for others” and “tolerance.”
“It’s been clear for a while that the world is at a crossroads. At an inflection point,” Obama said according to The Guardian while referencing the changes that the predominately muslim country has undergone over the years.
The former U.S. president moved to Indonesia when he was 6 years old, before returning to the states four years later, and settling with his grandparents in Hawaii.
In what may have been a commentary on Indonesian and U.S. politics, Obama warned of the consequences of intolerance, restricting the freedom of the press, “aggressive” nationalism, and an “increased resentment of minority groups.”
“If we don’t stand up for tolerance and moderation and respect for others, if we begin to doubt ourselves and all that we have accomplished, then much of the progress that we have made will not continue,” he said. “What we will see is more and more people arguing against democracy, we will see more and more people who are looking to restrict freedom of the press, and we’ll see more intolerance, more tribal divisions, more ethnic divisions, and religious divisions and more violence.”
Although Obama never directly mentioned President Donald Trump, he did respond to a question about the Trump Administration’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement.
He also showed support for Indonesia’s President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, and his ally, Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, a Chinese-born Christian politician and former governor of Jakarta. In May, Purnama (also known as Ahok) was sentenced to two years in prison for blasphemy after being found guilty of insulting Islam during his campaign (which he has denied).
During his speech, Obama made a point about being accepting of different religions, by using his Muslim stepfather as an example.
“My stepfather was raised a Muslim but he respected Hindus and he respected Buddhists and he respected Christians,” he noted. “If you are strong in your own faith then you should not be worried about someone else’s faith.”