Obama to visit largest mosque in Indonesia

October 29, 2010

(RNS) President Obama plans to visit one of the world's largest
mosques during his trip to Indonesia in November, the White House
announced Thursday (Oct. 28).


The visit to Istiqlal Mosque on Nov. 10 will precede a speech about
U.S. outreach to Muslims throughout the world, said Ben Rhodes, a deputy
national security adviser.


Rhodes said the mosque visit does not reflect an attempt to overcome
the recent controversy over whether an Islamic community center should
be built near Ground Zero.


"When we planned to go to Indonesia in March, we planned to go to
this same mosque," Rhodes said, adding that the president has visited
prominent mosques when he has traveled to other countries with Muslim
majorities.


The speech in Indonesia will likely draw a large crowd,
administration officials said, due to the president's popularity in that
country. He lived several years of his childhood in Indonesia with his
mother and stepfather.


The announcement of the mosque visit came the day after the White
House denied reports that Obama will avoid a Sikh shrine while visiting
India earlier in the trip because the required head covering might have
fanned false rumors about his Christian faith