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Politic, Woman and Islam

 As an Indonesian, who’s know with a very moderate and liberal Muslim country, I am proud that woman in Indonesia was not very restricted as in only other Muslim country in the world. But these view were changed lately , as more and more Indonesian Muslim are being very religious, not only from the way they dress but also in their mannerism. Even though some of the time it was only surfaced look only.

I have to admit, Muslim in Indonesia are different from Muslim in the Middle East. Most of Indonesian are not exposed to the lifestyle in the Middle East, they don’t know how it is in the Middle East. What they know is only about Muslim in Saudi Arabia, while the rest of the Arabian Peninsula and Arabian Country are still majority are Muslim, with different depth of Islam, yet, they are no less religious than the one in Saudi or Indonesia.

10 years or more so ago, when Suharto or maybe during the Indonesian Lady President (Megawati), no body object when the First Lady or the Lady President made a handshake with the opposite gender. Why now, when the American First Lady handshake with one of the Indonesian Ministry… there is critisism about it:

Tifatul Sembiring, the Information Minister who says he never touches women who are not relatives, admits he shook Ms. Obama’s hand, but adds he was basically forced into it.

“I tried to prevent [being touched] with my hands but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me [so] we touched,” – posted on

Tifatul Sembiring shaking hands with Michelle Obama

What’s wrong by shaking hand with other gender? Is it to rude to do so, or is it too sexual? I think Indonesian has to stick with their own tradition, ( which maybe now it has been invaded with the “Muslim ”  rule and regulation and), who’s diluted which one is tradition and which one is religion.

Regardless all those things, I would like to share my experience as I live in Qatar, a neighboring country to Saudi. Here, we have the Emir as the ruler of the country and his high profile wife, we call her Sheika. I have to accept that Sheika Mouza (who travel with him wherever he goes on official business trip) doesn’t appear as high profile as the husband, but that doesn’t mean that he needs to walk a few steps behind him or cover her face or even wear traditional Abaya. Yes, she is still covering her head but she wear it in such a way that it’s part of the head accessories. She is still showing a bit of her hair, she also showing off her beautiful long throat, part of her arms and a small bit of her legs. The very fashionable Sheika Mousa is also shake hands with the opposite gender as part of the mannerism on her international official trip, and no body criticized her .

Sheika Mousah shaking hand with male counter part - not a taboo

To be honest, I was really sad with Titaful Sembiring who says “never touches a women who are not relatives…” Is Indonesia going backward? Where was the Indonesian who were once used to be very tolerance and open minded?

Filed under: eJournal, Expat Archive

About the Author

Posted by

I used to live as an expat and travel around the Middle East. After 10 years working in the Arabian Gulf I am now retired and living in the UK but still retain my interests of further travels and exploring new horizons.

1 Comment so far

  1. Pingback: 2010 | Nins' Travelog

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