JAKARTA, Indonesia — A top Indonesian Cabinet minister said that the Trump administration’s hostile rhetoric toward Islam has left many in the world’s most populous Muslim nation feeling that a wedge has been driven between the U.S. and Indonesia.
Luhut Pandjaitan said in a column written for Singapore’s Straits Times newspaper that the negative sentiment felt in Indonesia will only disappear when it’s clear the U.S. has not abandoned its openness to all faiths.
“Many Indonesians were dismayed by the Trump administration’s hostile rhetoric and intemperate policy stance towards the Muslims of the world,” he said. “Given that Indonesia is home to the largest number of them, there was a feeling that a wedge was being driven between America and Indonesia.”
President Donald Trump’s travel ban directed at several majority Muslim nations did not include Indonesia but nevertheless drew criticism from Indonesians.
This week, Trump retweeted anti-Muslim videos from a far-right British group in only the latest of statements to inflame sentiment against the U.S. in the Muslim world.
Luhut said Indonesia is the biggest country in Southeast Asia and it’s “unimaginable” the U.S. can have sound security ties with the region without reaching out to Indonesia in particular.
Cooperation between the U.S. and Indonesia is also crucial in combating violent extremism, he said.