23 October 2020
When US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visits Indonesia next week, China, the South China Sea maritime disputes, freedom of navigation and regional security will top his agenda in talks with Indonesian leaders to “preserve a free and open Indo-Pacific”, as he told reporters in Washington. But the real catalyst for his first-ever official visit to Indonesia, a one-day trip on to the capital Jakarta, is not about China but a scheduled address to the world’s largest Islamic youth organisation focusing on a recently released US State Department Commission on Unalienable Rights – key among them religious freedom. The 5 million-member youth group, commonly known as Ansor, operates under the auspices of Nahdlatul Ulama, or NU, the world‘s largest mass Muslim organisation, boasting 90 million members.
Dr James M Dorsey, a Senior Fellow at RSIS as well as the Middle East Institute, both based in Singapore, said that Pompeo has previously engaged with NU, in particular on religious freedom, which triggered this visit. “The NU is different because first, NU is not a state, whereas all the others are states. The second marker is that – leaving the Turks aside for a second, and the Saudis and Emiratis – it’s all about projection of a certain interpretation of the faith and the state representing that interpretation,” Dorsey said.
RSIS / Print
Last updated on 26/10/2020