Almost a year ago there was an Indonesian story on Senator Barack Obama that never really received much notice from the US media. The story was first translated here at "An American Expat in Southeast Asia" in a post entitled Tracking Down Obama in Indonesia - Part 5
While the photo from the story has now made it's way across the web, the actual story and interview hasn't. It's understandable really, much of the Indonesian media reports on Obama have for the most part been ignored by America's main stream media especially stories that focused on Obama's religious upbringing in Indonesia.
The story is an interview with a woman named Tine Hahiyary who was a former teacher and principle of Besuki Primary school, during the time when a young Barry Soetero attended classes there. Revisiting Obama's childhood school the author notices the children in the school yard dressed in Western-Style clothing, but then reminds the reader that on Fridays, all the school childen must wear Muslim clothes and that also includes children who are non-muslim. An inconvenient truth that CNN and the rest of America's main stream media conveniently omitted.
What struck me the most odd from the story was Tine Hahiyary's recollection of a young Obama who was quite religious and actively took part in mengaji classes. A claim that would seem to differ from Obama's much publicized statements that he was not raised in a particularly religious household.
While the word "mengaji" means to either learn or study, however, the actual usage of the word "mengaji" in Indonesian and Malaysian societies means the study of learning to recite the Quran in the Arabic language rather than the native tongue. "Mengagi" is a word and a term that is accorded the highest value and status in the mindset of fundamentalist societies here in Southeast Asia. To put it quite simply, "mengaji classes" are not something that a non practicing or so-called moderate Muslim family would ever send their child to. To put this is perhaps a Christian context, this is something above and beyond simply enrolling your child in Sunday school classes.
The fact that Obama had attended mengaji classes is well known in Indonesia and has left many there wondering just when Obama is going to come out of the closet.
As I've stated before, the evidence seems to quite clearly show that both Ann Dunham and her husband Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo were in act devout Muslims themselves and they raised their son as such.
In a recent article entitled "Confirmed: Barack Obama practised Islam", Daniel Pipes comes to the conclusion that Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim who rarely or occasionally prayed with his step-father in a mosque." and "that for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian step-father." Needless to say, I will respectfully differ with Daniel Pipes conclusion. So will most Indonesians.