Bush in Indonesia: Sorcerer's curse and thousands of protesters await

McClatchy Washington Bureau | 11/19/2006 | Bush may face a chilly reception in Indonesia Monday:

More than 20,000 police and security agents have been mobilized to help protect the president during his seven-hour stopover. Bush will meet with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in Bogor, about 45 miles south of Jakarta, after wrapping up a weekend trip to Vietnam.

'My curse will make him bloat like broccoli. Bush will feel unease during the visit,' Ki Gendeng Pamungkas told The Jakarta Post after performing a black magic ritual at a busy Bogor traffic circle last week. His curse required the blood of a snake, a goat and a crow.

Bush may feel a bit uneasy even without the sorcerer's spell. The American president is widely unpopular in Indonesia, largely because of the war in Iraq and U.S. support for Israel. During Bush's last visit, in 2003, he was peppered with criticism during a closed-door meeting with religious leaders.

'I think he's going to hear it again,' said Zachary Abuza, an Indonesia expert and an international relations professor at Simmons College in Boston. 'They are very angry about Iraq. As far as they're concerned, it is patently anti-Muslim - and that's the moderates.'

The Jakarta Post urged stringent security during Bush's visit, noting in an editorial that the president is 'very unpopular' and 'little better than Public Enemy No. 1' in some Indonesian circles.


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