Amid cries of “God is Great,” the former chief of staff of the Indonesian army joined hard-line Muslim activists in a Jakarta ballroom last week to denounce the United States — and praise China as a model of how to stand up to Washington.
“We should do what China has done; America must follow our rules,” declared retired Gen. Tyasno Sudarto. Veiled women and bearded men, seated separately to avoid mingling of the sexes, shouted praise for Allah and jabbed their fists in the air. Another speaker hailed China for defying Washington’s “neo-liberal” economic creed.
The boisterous event, organized by an Islamic organization called Hizb ut-Tahrir, brought together two groups of Indonesians that don’t usually mix — fervent champions of an Islamic state and zealous secular nationalists. What united them was a shared fury at Washington and the hope that Beijing can put America in its place.