Barack Obama paid tribute to his boyhood home of Indonesia over the weekend in an emotional speech that came at the close of a nostalgic 10-day vacation to the country with his family.
Thousands of leaders, students and businesspeople gathered in Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, where the former president gave remarks to kick off the Fourth Congress of Indonesian Diaspora.
In his address, Obama reminisced about moving to Jakarta in 1967 when he was 6 years old after his divorced mother, Ann Dunham, remarried a man who lived there. (Obama returned to his native Hawaii at age 10 to live with his grandparents.)
“Indonesia bagian dari diri saya!” Obama shouted in his speech, which translates to “Indonesia is part of me!”
The former president explained that the time he’s spent in Indonesia has taught him an important lesson about tolerance.
“My time here made me cherish respect for people’s differences,” he said.
“The spirit of this country has to be one of tolerance. It’s enshrined in Indonesia’s constitution, it’s symbolized by mosques and temples and churches beside each other,” added Obama, who along with his wife, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and daughters Sasha and Malia, visited temples in the ancient city of Yogyakarta amid their vacation. “That spirit is one of the defining things about Indonesia. It is one of the most important characteristics to set as an example for other Muslim countries around the world.”
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“If we don’t stand up for tolerance and moderation and respect for others, if we begin to doubt ourselves and all that we have accomplished, then much of the progress that we have made will not continue,” Obama continued. “What we will see is more and more people arguing against democracy, we will see more and more people who are looking to restrict freedom of the press, and we’ll see more intolerance, more tribal divisions, more ethnic divisions, and religious divisions and more violence … Let’s face it, if people do not show respect and tolerance, eventually you have war and conflict. Sooner or later societies break down.”
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Though he didn’t mention President Donald Trump by name in his speech, some have speculated that Obama’s remarks promoting tolerance and warning of the dangers of nationalism were aimed at his successor, who last week saw his controversial travel ban on six Muslim-majority countries partially reinstated by the Supreme Court.
Bradd Jaffy of NBC News tweeted that Obama’s speech “reads like a giant Trump subtweet.”