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Interesting Research in Menteng

Reader comment on item: Obama's Muslim Childhood

Submitted by IndoBillyBob (United States), Sep 14, 2012 at 23:36

As an expat worker with several years spent in Indonesia, the Menteng neighborhood background of President Obama was especially interesting.

Menteng is one of the better neighborhoods in Jakarta, and that's where perhaps the majority of western expat workers in Jakarta live. Because of the unusually high percentage (by Indonesian standards) of expat Christian families there, it is a much more religiously tolerant area than the rest of Jakarta.

Even though that neighborhood is considered relatively tolerant of Christians, I still find it difficult to imagine how Barry's mother was able to marry a Muslim without converting to Islam.

Well, perhaps not - money buys most anything there, including what was termed a "contract marriage", and many expats did exactly that. It was somewhat akin to our civil marriages - there is documentation, but no religious ceremonies.

The contract marriages are issued by the Muslim clergy for an agreed upon price, and are a contract that can be revoked at any time by the husband, but once again, for another fee. The details of these marriage contracts are negotiable, and registering Barry as a Muslim in school, and on his government "KTP" ID card, may have been a requirement demanded by the local "RT" - neighborhood Imam.

Of course, the details of Barry's mother's marriage arrangement are just speculation on my part. It would help fill in some blanks to find out how that frowned upon inter-religious marriage happened. The local RT would know all of the details, since he essentially has to approve almost everything done by everyone in his neighborhood.

So Barry's registration as "Islam" was perhaps not by his choice at that young age, but the fact that he was well schooled in the religion is undeniable.

Submitting....

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