Feb 26, 2008

Obama and CNN: Black, White or Yellow


"...If anyone is still puzzled about the facts, in fact I have never been a Muslim. We had to send CNN to look at the school that I attended in Indonesia where kids were wearing short pants and listening to ipods to indicate that this was not a madrassa but was a secular school in Indonesia..." ~ Barack Obama, 24 February 2008

In a recent episode of Saturday Night Live that featured a parody of a Clinton Obama debate, a faux Campbell Brown chirped "Like nearly everyone in the news media, the three of us are totally in the tank for Senator Obama". Funny? Yes, but this might have hit a bit too close to home.

Surely Barack Obama wouldn't lie now would he? But did the Obama camp really send CNN to Indonesia? Are we to believe that when the accusations of Barack Obama attending a madrassa as a child first broke on Fox News last year that Sam Feist's reply to the Obama camp would be "Please relax. You furnish the money, I'll furnish the debunk."

Like many Americans, my parents raised me to believe that it is the truth that matters. It is. Network news broadcasts and newspaper reports have the power to shape our perceptions, consciously and subliminally and as consumers we naturally expect a bit of integrity on behalf of the networks and media outlets. We expect that opinion and commentary are clearly identified as such. What we don't expect is that the news has been manufactured or bought and paid for. That CNN would assist Obama in deceiving the American people is downright despicable and I think if what Obama is saying is true, then both CNN and Obama owe the American people an apology.

For Barack Obama, the facts are that he is a liar and no one, not CNN or Sam Feist is ever going to change that fact. There is no amount of spin, flooding the internet or debunking that is ever going to change the fact that Barack Hussein Obama was born a Muslim and that he practiced Islam as a child, no more than I can change the fact that I was born and baptized a Catholic and attended Catholic school as a child.

Barack Obama often speaks of hope and change, but for a man that truly aspires to lead our nation, hope and change will simply not suffice, there can be no dignity without honesty.

If you haven't read the two related posts below, you need to

Related Posts

CNN Calls The Kettle Black

Obama and the Audacity of CNN


Feb 24, 2008

Defeating Islamic Extremism 101 - Part 3

"They (the Taliban) might be implementing Islamic law, an Islamic state, but they completely waste their time because they do it in a totally un-Islamic way"

In a letter to his mother in late 2000, Australian David Hicks would offer a glimpse into the mindset of a Western Al Qaeda recruit who was slowly beginning to see the pharisaical hypocrisy in Al Qaeda's austere call to primitive purity. What Hick's had failed to see though was that Al Qaeda and the Taliban's revolution was more "nationalistic" than "Islamic" and it's violence inspired more so by jealousy rather than jihad.

I can understand exactly how David Hicks felt at the time. You see, I had been in the same situation as Hicks once before, the only difference I suppose is that I never made Al Qaeda's final cut. Unlike Western Al Qaeda recruits David Hicks and Adam Gadahn, I would have an epiphany, a sudden intuitive realization of the profound hypocrisy in the words and deeds of Islam's self-proclaimed über elite, a pharisaical hypocrisy that not only made their avowals of pious purity unconvincing, but one that made them vulnerable.

My first day at the madrassa was interesting to say the least, but I had made my decision. I was there to teach English and in return Hassan and his friends would teach me all about Islam. I'd mentioned to Hassan that I had never taught English before, but that didn't seem to matter. What mattered is that I spoke English and that the children didn't. I told Hassan that I guess I could help with the basic conversational English and so I went to a book store and picked up a some elementary school books for my first class the next day.

I arrived back at the madrassa later after the evening prayer. Just in time for dinner and I joined Hassan at one of the wooden picnic-type tables in the canteen. The students were all sitting on the vinyl-covered floor in a large room next to the canteen eating their dinner. In total there was around 30-40 students with four students to each large rounded tray consisting of a mound of rice, four hard-boiled eggs, some dried fried anchovies, boiled tapioca leaves and a sambal. The students were sitting on the floor many with their left hand positioned under their knee and then eating with their right hands. Hassan must have caught me watching this and then proceeded to explain to me that the left hand is dirty and meant for cleaning yourself. Making a mental note of this, I picked up the cup of coffee in front of me with my right hand and took a sip.

Hassan didn't realize that it wasn't the way the students were eating that had caught my eye, but rather what they were eating. This was something that I found a bit disturbing, the food served to the children hardly seemed to be sustaining. There was no meat and the amount of food that the children were given hardly seemed to be even enough to even fill their stomachs. As the students finished eating the passed by our table on their way into the dormitories.

By this time our food had arrived, a sumptuous spread of saffron-scented biryani rice, lamb and dhal curries, a large omelette of some type, fresh vegetables and several large pieces of naan. Being the new English teacher I sat at the table with Hassan and his guests from Pakistan. With the students all passing by obviously still hungry I felt embarrassed and ashamed and yet Hassan and his friend didn't seem to be phased in the least, they proceeded to help themselves. As I sat there, Hassan spoke up and asked me to join in. I looked at the table and at the people eating before me and then asked Hassan if I could kindly have a fork and spoon. Hassan frowned and then called for the cook to bring a fork and spoon over to the table. Hassan took the fork and spoon from the cook and handed it to me and as he did I seemed to find myself focusing on his other wrist, the one with the gold Rolex on it.

As I ate my meal, I found myself intrigued by the fact that Hassan and his students didn't seem to be very Malay to me, they seemed to have cultivated a predilection for everything either Arabic or Pakistani, as evidenced not only by their gross adulation of the dress and mannerisms of their "brothers" from Pakistan but by their adoption of a dualistic worldview where they see themselves as part of some cosmic, Manichaean struggle between good an evil. It wouldn't be long before I found myself being constantly critiqued on what was acceptable under Islamic jurisprudence and what was not.

to be continued...

Related Posts

Defeating Islamic Extremism 101 - Part 1

Defeating Islamic Extremism 101 - Part 2


Feb 20, 2008

Obama On Indonesian Television - Part 2


In the video below, the reporter visits Zulfian Mirzan and his wife who bought Obama's childhood home in Jakarta just four years ago from Barack Obama's stepsister Maya Soetoro-Ng for 500 million rupiah (USD 54,500). The reporter describes the inside of the home and shows all the rooms, including the room with the single bed across the hall from the master bedroom which the reporter states was a young Barack Obama's room. According to the current owners, the house including all the interiors has not been changed since the time Obama and his family lived there. The end of the video shows the Zulfian Mirzan's new baby who will be living in Obama's room.

Right click to open in a new window:

*Video* Tracking Barack Obama: Obama's Childhood Home

The beginning of the next video below shows Obama on the campaign trail while the Indonesian reporter in the background explains that before Barack Obama became famous in the United States he attended two schools in Indonesia as a child. The reporter then shows the two schools, the Menteng Primary School and the Franciscus Assisi Primary School where Obama was registered under the name of "Barry Soetoro". The video ends with the reporter stating that Obama was a clever and friendly boy and that he left Indonesia in 1972 for Hawaii.

Right click to open in a new window:

*Video* Tracking Barack Obama: Assisi Primary School and Menteng Primary School

Related Posts

An American Expat in Southeast Asia: Barack Obama


Feb 19, 2008

Obama On Indonesian Television - Part 1

This is the beginning of a two part series here at "An American Expat in Southeast Asia" entitled "Obama on Indonesian Television". The videos below are from DetikTV in Jakarta who ran a small series in February 2008 entitled tracking Barack Obama in Indonesia. The information you will find in the videos below confirms and substantiates much of what we originally translated and reported in our series of posts on "Obama in Indonesia" back in January of 2007.

The picture above is seen in the following video, showing a young Barry Soetoro (Barack Hussein Obama) posing with his mother, Ann, half sister, Maya, and maternal grandfather Stanley Dunham in Hawaii in the early 1970s after the family returned from Indonesia. Ann Dunham would return to Indonesia and shortly after this picture was taken, Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo would later divorce Ann and then remarry, fathering another two children.

Right click to open in a new window:

*Video* Tracking Barack Obama: From Menteng to Dempo

In the next video below, a photo is shown of a young Barack Obama and his father Hussein Obama, a Muslim from Kenya and then his mother and stepfather Lolo Soetoro.

Referring to a young Barack Obama, the reporter states in Indonesian "juga hidup tengah-tengah orang muslim" (he lived his life in the middle of Muslims) - an interesting choice of words to use which can have an ambiguous meaning depending on how exactly it is translated. Highlighting the United States presidential campaign, the reporter states that Obama's enemies have been making a political issue out of Obama's "life among the Muslims". The reporter then states, "Barry yang punya wajah lucu sering dimainkan teman-teman pernah dipakaikan sarong meski tak pernah ikut solat" (Barry had a funny face and his friends made fun of him by putting a sarong on him even though he didn't pray). The emphasis here is that even though Barry was a Muslim and was in the mosque and was wearing Islamic clothes, that he was only "playing" and not really "praying". I suppose you can interpret that any way you wish.

In the second part of the video, Zulfan Adi, a former neighborhood playmate of Obama's who has been cited in numerous news reports claiming that Obama regularly attended Friday prayers with his stepfather Lolo Soetoro points out the "Musholla Al-Rahman" (Al-Rahman Prayer Room) to the reporter where he then goes out of his way to explain that Obama wasn't "praying" in the prayer room, he only "playing". That Zulfan Adi found it necessary to use and emphasize the English word "praying" in the Indonesian language report leads us to the self-evident conclusion that this part of the report if not all of it was simply staged for foreign consumption.

Right click to open in a new window:

*Video* The Prayer Room Where Obama Played

Remember to donate. Every little bit counts.

Related Posts

Tracking Down Obama in Indonesia

Tracking Down Obama in Indonesia - Part 2

Tracking Down Obama in Indonesia - Part 3


Feb 17, 2008

Britain's Islamic Fatalism

"I ask him to bring a new spirit of urgency to the fight against the Zeus of Iran and his attempt to kidnap our freedoms; and by doing so, to show New Labour's commitment to the true spirit of Europe - not just to an economic community, or to monetary union, but to European civilization itself."

The excerpt above is from a letter written by Salman Rushdie to Britain's "The Guardian" newspaper on 14 February 1997. It was on this day, the eighth anniversary of the fatwa against him, that Salman Rushdie would castigate Europe's politicians for cynically abandoning the ideals of free expression and human rights. In retrospect, Sir Salman Rushdie's words would offer a veiled glimpse at the coming future of European and Western civilization. A civilization that would one day willingly subjugate itself to dhimmitude, all in the name of diversity and "religious tolerance".

You might have expected a strongly worded statement on the 14th of February from 10 Downing Street, perhaps even in response to Hamid Ansari's declaration on Iranian State television that the "fatwa" calling for the death of Sir Salman Rushdie still stands, but this is not the courageous and proud Britain of the past, this is a nation now resigned to fatalism. Islamic fatalism.

It is hard to imagine that Sir Salman Rushdie could have possibly imagined that just eleven years later not only would the Archbishop of Canterbury be conceding that Britain's acceptance of Islamic law was inevitable, but that Iran would be on the very verge of developing a deliverable nuclear weapon. Is there truly any hope for a civilization hopelessly consumed with a "pathological self-hatred", a self-hatred that has now become dangerously fused with both anti-rationalism and as the Archbishop has so demonstrated, an Islamic fatalism?

Britain's latest disgrace is to unwittingly assist Islamic extremists in perpetuating their "us versus them" dichotomy by issuing special "Islamic bonds". What was wrong with the regular bonds you might ask? Well, the for Britain's Islamic fundamentalists, the regular bonds are "unclean" by Islamic standards. Make no doubt about it, with the assistance of quislings like Rowan Williams and Chancellor Alistair Darling, Islam's foot soldiers are busy with the task to ensure that Islam's religious precepts are all being duly incorporated into civil law.

For a government hopelessly enamored with the concepts of diversity and multiculturalism, these sharia-compliant bonds are a naive and misguided way of tapping Middle-East money and building bridges with the Muslim community, but the reality is that this "banking apartheid" contributes not to economic prosperity, but only to racial and ethnic chauvinism. What Britain's leaders lack is foresight, the foresight to see that that by rejecting their own principles and values and then bolstering Islamic self-assertion, chauvinism and values, they only substantiate the dualistic sociopolitical ideology professed by Islam's hardcore fundamentalists. It is the relentless accommodation and appeasement of these fundamentalists that continues to embolden them.

When the day of maturity comes, and it will, these bonds will be repaid with English blood and not with sterling.


Feb 10, 2008

Britain's Archbishop of Panderbury

"Our modern western definition of humanity is clearly not working very well. There is something about western modernity which really does eat away at the soul." so says Britain's leading Islamophile and closet druid Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Hopelessly naive, if not anachronistic it seems almost predictable that Rowan Williams, a pagan druid, completely devoid of any moral compass would seem to revere the austere primitive purity of Rousseau's "noble savage". But William's 'conflict of conscience' is more founded in what Ratzinger referred to as a "pathological self-hatred" rather than his own misguided philosophical beliefs.

Joseph Ratzinger's 2004 essay entitled "If Europe Hates Itself" gives a glimpse into the source of a faithless Archbishop's torment when he states that "The West reveals here a hatred of itself, which is strange and can be only considered pathological; the West is laudably trying to open itself, full of understanding, to external values, but it no longer loves itself; in its own history, it now sees only what is deplorable and destructive, while it is no longer able to perceive what is great and pure."

The Constitutions of numerous nations, all with their emphasis on the principles of secularism, democracy, the rule of law and, above all, the equality of all human beings irrespective of caste, community, language or ethnicity are all derived from the British colonial legacy and Britain's gift to the world, the Magna Carta. There is a Commonwealth of Nations from Australia and New Zealand to India, Malaysia and Singapore who still value, cherish and respect their judiciary, legal system, bureaucracy and police. All cherished institutions, and all derived from British colonial administration.

There are millions of Singaporeans who see the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles on a daily basis as a warm reminder of their British colonial legacy. Millions of people around the globe who have been lifted from poverty to self-sustainability all thanks to the British. Having lived in Southeast Asia myself for over twenty years, the only thing that I think the British can justifiably be reviled for is their culinary legacy. Baked beans on toast and mushy peas. Vile and disgusting.

But as Joseph Ratzinger noted, none of this matters or is even seen by people like Rowan Williams, they are consumed with self-loathing and a "pathological self-hatred" and as Orwell stated in his 1941 essay entitled "England Your England", they are "unteachable", "only when their money and power are gone will the younger among them begin to grasp what century they are living in."

For Rowan Williams and the rest of his ilk, it is easy to place the blame on what they see to be an impersonal nation, they fail to realize that is not the nation, but themselves whom they hate. They hate themselves for what they have become. In Williams case, a faithless man of the cloth who has lost his way. This is not the first time Williams has found himself compelled to pee on the carpet and it won't be the last. Considering this, it should be obvious to all that William's would be best suited kicking around his misguided ideas on multiculturalism on some liberal university campus and not in his current position as the Archbishop of Canterbury.

In his book Millennium, Felipe Fernandez-Armesto writes, "I find it hard to believe that this generation will be able to muster the courage to fight for the sort of imperfect humanity which is willing to abort innocent lives while sanctifying those of criminals, or which undermines it's own principles by banning moral absolutes as politically incorrect."

In an environment that eschews moral absolutism and embraces cultural relativism and the "diversity of opinions", it is almost to be expected that someone like Rowan Williams' or his liberal cohorts would make the mindless suggestion that Islamic law be introduced as some sort of "supplementary jurisdiction". In what Burke warned us against, William's suggestion is tantamount to simply dismissing the "rule of law" as nothing more than some sort of abstract universalism in which all individual identity is lost, stripped as Burke said, and standing "in the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction." What happens when the laws overlap as they often do in countries like Malaysia? Which law would supersede the other? One of the central themes of this blog has been the dangers of diversity and multiculturalism. Hopefully, this incident will serve as an example of how cultural relativism inevitably drags moral relativism in it's wake. If what is wrong for one society can somehow be right for another, then what is wrong for one generation can justifiably be right for the next.

Rowan Williams' reckless comments will not soon be forgotten, they will be seen as a sign of weakness and will continue to embolden extremist groups such as Hizb ut-Tahrir and others who wish to see Islamic laws implemented. Only in September of last year, Malaysia's Chief Justice made the push for reforms to introduce hardline Islamic law here in Malaysia. Ironically his justification for change was very similar to Rowan Williams reasons, and that is the "us versus them" dichotomy, the post entitled "The Clutches of Colonialism" can be read here.

To paraphrase Orwell, "The intellectuals who hope to see England Islamicized will be disappointed. The gentleness, the hypocrisy, the thoughtlessness, the reverence for law and the hatred of uniforms will remain, along with the suet puddings and the misty skies. It needs some very great disaster, such as prolonged subjugation by a foreign enemy, to destroy a national culture."

Subjugation by way of multiculturalism is already underway. Today was the first strike on England's reverence for law.

Rowan Williams the Archbishop of Canterbury must either resign or be removed from office.


Guess Which Collectivist Said It

This is an absolute riot! Enjoy!

Fun With Quotes: Guess Which Collectivist Said It

From The People's Cube of course.

HT - Flares Into Darkness


Feb 7, 2008

Helicopter Charters in Paradise

I often get emails asking what life is like over here as an expatriate and among other things why I never post any photos. Well hopefully things are going to change this year as soon as I can afford to get myself one of those new digital cameras. And one that note, did you know there are over 300 posts here at "An American Expat in Southeast Asia"? Surely you haven't read them all. Ever wondered what you missed? Just below the "donate button" (remember every little bit counts) you will find the new Google search button that enables you to search the complete site. Trust me it's the best thing since sliced bread.

A good American friend of mine Cliff who shares my affection for fine Tex-Mex cuisine (I cook it, he eats it.) sent me this video a while back. Cliff is an ex-marine helicopter pilot who now lives over here and operates his own small helicopter charter service. For me, when I'm not working my virtual street corner here in the blogosphere (remember your donations help keep Lao off the street), I'm cooking Tex-Mex and when we're not scratching our heads trying to understand America's suicidal fascination with Obama or drinking tequila, this is what my friend Cliff does for a living. Enjoy the video!


Feb 5, 2008

Islam's Battle For The White House

In an article entitled "World Captivated By US Presidential Race", William J. Kole with the Associated Press writes that a mantra for "transformational change" is resonating across the rest of a planet desperate for a fresh start. And while Barack Obama is the candidate generating most of the buzz abroad, Kole interestingly enough, makes no mention of Obama's popularity here in Southeast Asia. Instead Kole focuses mainly on Obama's popularity in Europe and Japan. One might consider that omission a bit strange considering the fact that Obama spent his childhood years growing up in Indonesia. But make no doubt about it, the "transformational change" is already happening here.

Almost a year ago, in an unprecedented and strongly worded foray into US politics, Australia's Prime Minister John Howard said an Obama victory in the presidential election would be disastrous for the war on terrorism. John Howard went on to state that if Barack Obama wins "Al Qaeda will trumpet it as the greatest victory they've ever had, and that will have implications in our region because of the link between Al Qaeda and JI (Jemaah Islamiyah)."

For those who believe that Barack Obama's campaign promise to "put an end to the war in Iraq" and to let our adversaries know that "we are willing to come to the table" will have the desired effect, they need look no farther than Australia.

Last December, Kevin Rudd defeated John Howard on a campaign promise to withdraw Australia's troops from Iraq, a platform now embraced by Barack Obama who has promised to withdraw US troops from Iraq.

Al Qaeda linked insurgency groups in the Middle East and here in Southeast Asia wasted no time in declaring John Howard's loss to Kevin Rudd as a major victory declaring that they have "shot down the crusader Howard". Accused of "fleeing like a cornered mouse", Kevin Rudd's Iraq policy has lent credence to Roosevelt's eternal aphorism that - "No man can tame a tiger into a kitten by stroking it. There can be no appeasement with ruthlessness. There can be no reasoning with an incendiary bomb and that we can only have peace with Al Qaeda at the price of total surrender.

An Obama victory in the US presidential elections will be disastrous for the war on terrorism and the mere prospects of that becoming a reality have already begun to raise red flags here in Southeast Asia. To say that Obama is popular among Muslims in Southeast Asia would be an understatement. Almost all Indonesians see Barack Hussein Obama as one of their brethren. His childhood in Indonesia, his Muslim heritage, his Muslim name, his black hair and brown eyes, his opposition to the War in Iraq and his sympathy towards the cause of Muslims around the world convinces Indonesians that Obama is one of their own. For Indonesians it is simple, if he walks like a Muslim and talks like a Muslim, then he is a Muslim.

The results from my own empirical research on Obama's popularity over here are disturbing to say the least. Of over 100 Muslims interviewed from both Indonesia and Malaysia who had an opinion in the US presidential election, only two individuals chose Hillary Clinton over Obama.

Not only is Obama popular though, but his popularity transcends the theological divide between the moderates and the extremists and thus provides a focal point of unity for the two groups. It is this "focal point of unity" which has the dangerous potential to inhibit any further attempts to ostracize the extremist elements and as such thwart our efforts at deradicalization. It's one thing to be known as a uniter, it's another when you are uniting the very individuals that we are trying to isolate and ostracize.

To suitably prejudiced Indonesians Obama's pledge to "rid the American mind-set of militarism" substantiates the position of the Islamic militants by rekindling the prophecies of Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden. That America is a decadent and vile ogre, bloodied with the guilt of imperialism and inescapably tainted by an anti-Islamic history. It is this symbolically violent imagery that Indonesia's fundamentalist orators will use to radicalize a new contingent of militants from the ranks of Islam's moderates. Individuals who are mesmerized by the phantasmagorical image of one of their own now inhabiting the White House and who will see it as a sign of America's impending submission and our nation's acquiescence to the superiority of Islam.

To put things into perspective, imagine if you will that in 1945 a war-weary America had elected Harry S. Yamamoto as president. An inexperienced and young president who's campaign promise was to "put an end to the war in Pacific" and to let our adversaries know that "we are willing to come to the table". What would be the reaction in Japan?

Unprecedented as it might have been there are those of us here in Southeast Asia who see the prescience and veracity in John Howard's ominous warning.

Related Posts

Defeating Islamic Extremism 101.


Feb 3, 2008

Defeating Islamic Extremism 101 - Part 2

Prior to 9/11, it wasn't totally uncommon to run across men from time to time in Southeast Asia fully decked out in their full Islamist regalia, what the locals over here would refer to as someone who is very "alim" (learned, religious). Back in the late 80's and 90's what would be uncommon to find though was a Caucasian who spoke the language, a sure sign that the individual had a lot of interaction with the Indonesian and Malay community or perhaps had a local girlfriend. Times were much different back then and the expatriate community was quite small. Looking back, I suppose it was pretty much a novelty for the locals to see a foreigner who converse with them in their own language.

Hassan smiled and proceeded to heap accolades on me. "It's so nice to see an American who takes the time to learn our culture and language." I smiled and in response to his questions I confirmed that I did in fact have a Malay girlfriend that I liked very much. Hassan asked me if I had converted to Islam and I responded that I hadn't but that my girlfriend's mother spoke about it to me often. Hassan smiled and told me that if I was serious about this girl that I would eventually have to convert to Islam if I wished to marry her. Politely I told Hassan that is was a bit too early for that. Attempting to change the subject, I asked Hassan where he was from and what he was doing in Singapore. Hassan told me that he was from Malaysia and was in Singapore purchasing computer equipment for a madrassa and computer school that he ran in Malaysia. As I got up to leave the restaurant, Hassan scribbled his phone number in Malaysia on a napkin and asked me to stop up and visit sometime whenever I was in Kuala Lumpur.

A few months later I happened to be in Kuala Lumpur and being curious to see what a madrassa was like I decided to pay Hassan a visit. He wasn't exactly in Kuala Lumpur and in fact it was a bit of a drive and so I packed a few things in an overnight bag just in case I got too tired to drive back later. When I arrived at Hassan's madrassa I was bit taken aback at what I saw. The madrassa looked quite a bit rundown and all the students dressed in flowing white robes and turbans were standing outside when I drove in through the driveway to park my car in the back of the building. I walked around the building and spotted Hassan sitting with a few other gentlemen in the madrassa's canteen. Hassan stood up smiling and then introduced to me his "brothers" and then speaking in English, he told them that he had met me in Singapore, how I spoke Indonesian and Malay, that I had a Malay girlfriend and that I was interested in converting to Islam. Hassan's "brothers" smiled broadly and invited me to sit down and join them for a cup of tea. I noticed that Hassan's "brothers" were dressed slightly differently and then over a cup of tea, I came to learn that the "brothers" were in fact from Pakistan and were visiting in Malaysia for a few days before moving on to Indonesia. For the next couple hours we spoke mostly about Afghanistan and Islam and how the Taliban were transforming the country after the Russians had been defeated.

Looking back, what is interesting to note is how there was very little open animosity at the time the men were quite cordial with outsiders albeit their mannerisms made them seem crazier than shit house rats at times. In my attempts to be polite though I sat through the sales pitch that was now coming on strong and listened to the three of them go on about the beauty of Islam, how much it was a "way of life", one that united people around the world, how it was the fastest growing religion in the world and even of the audacious plans for an Islamic Caliphate that would encompass all of South and Southeast Asia. Hassan then took over, smiled at me and went on to explain to me how people's lives changed for the better once they had embraced Islam.

It was about this time that I noticed the students started assembling nearby. It was time to pray again. As the students came around I noticed something that struck me as disturbing, the students looked exhausted and tired, their eyes seemed listless and as they gathered around there seemed to be almost no deliberation in their movement. I couldn't put my finger on it, but something just wasn't right, and yet in this surreal setting I found myself almost overwhelmed with empathy. I wanted to do something. I wanted to help. I looked over at Hassan and asked "Do any of these children speak English?" Hassan frowned and told me that they didn't have an English teacher and then asked me "How would you like to help teach English here?" Without even giving it much thought, I agreed to help teach the students English.

to be continued....


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