Indonesian school registration for “Barry Soetoro” (AP photo)
JERUSALEM – Was Sen. Barack Obama a citizen of Indonesia at any point in his life?
That question has been circulating on the blogosphere with increased fury the past few days, since a photograph emerged of Obama’s school registration papers as a child in Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim nation – showing the presidential candidate listed as a “Muslim” with “Indonesian” citizenship.
An investigation into Indonesian citizenship law and a review of Obama’s biography and travels suggest the Illinois senator at one point may have been a citizen of Indonesia. That would not necessarily disqualify Obama to run for president, but it could raise loyalty concerns.
A 2007 Associated Press photograph taken by Tatan Syuflana, an Indonesian AP reporter and photographer, surfaced last week on the Daylife.com photographic website showing an image of Obama’s registration card at Indonesia’s Fransiskus Assisi school, a Catholic institution.
In the picture, Obama is registered under the name Barry Soetoro by his stepfather, Lolo Soetoro. The school card lists Barry Soetoro as a Indonesian citizen born Aug. 4, 1961, in Honolulu, Hawaii. His religion is listed as Muslim.
Jack Stokes, manager of media relations for the AP, confirmed to WND the picture is indeed an AP photo.
After attending the Assisi Primary School, Obama later was enrolled at SDN Menteng 1, an Indonesian public school.
Obama’s campaign did not return repeated WND phone calls and e-mail queries the past week asking for a clarification regarding the school documentation listing the presidential candidate’s citizenship as Indonesian.
Obama spokesmen have stated the candidate is a natural-born citizen amid rumors he may have been born in his father’s home country of Kenya, but the campaign has not addressed whether Obama became a citizen of Indonesia at any point.
Obama’s American mother, Ann Dunham, separated from her first husband, Barack Obama Sr., in 1963 when the presidential candidate was two years old. Dunham and Obama Sr. are reported to have later divorced. Dunham married Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian, and moved to Indonesia sometime between 1966 and 1967.
It was not clear whether Soetoro adopted Obama, either in Hawaii or in Indonesia, but there is strong circumstantial evidence that he did as far as Indonesian law was concerned.
In Indonesia, which was under tight rule in 1967, Obama clearly took on the last name of his stepfather in school registration documents. All Indonesian students were required to carry government identity cards, or Karty Tanda Pendudaks, which needed to bear the student’s legal name, which should be matched in public school registration filings.
Following his enrollment at the private Assisi school, Obama attended public schooling in Indonesia until he returned to Hawaii at age 10. According to Indonesian legal experts, it was difficult to enroll non-Indonesian citizens in public schooling.
Obama arrived in Indonesia at about the age of five according to most accounts, although it was possible he arrived at the age of six, according to a few sources. If Lolo Soetoro adopted Obama at age five or younger, then Obama would automatically have become an Indonesian citizen according to the country’s laws in the 1960’s, which stipulated any child aged five or younger adopted by an Indonesian father is immediately granted Indonesian citizenship upon completion of the adoption process.
Lolo Soetoro could have adopted Obama in Hawaii, although such an adoption would not have necessarily been recognized by Indonesia.
Indonesian law at the time also did not recognize dual citizenship, meaning if Obama became Indonesian, then as far as that country was concerned, his U.S. citizenship was no longer recognized by Indonesia. But U.S. law would still recognize Obama as an American citizen.
In a revelation that raised a few eyebrows, Obama last April disclosed he traveled as a college student to Pakistan in 1981.
“I traveled to Pakistan when I was in college – I knew what Sunni and Shia was [sic] before I joined the Senate Foreign Relations Committee,” Obama reportedly stated at a fundraising event.
The senator had not previously discussed any trip to Pakistan, either in his books or in scores of policy talks regarding Pakistan.
Prompted by Obama’s statements, ABC News contacted the presidential candidate’s campaign, which affirmed that in 1981 – the year Obama transferred from Occidental College to Columbia University – Obama visited his mother and sister Maya in Indonesia. Obama then went on to Pakistan with a friend from college whose family was from that country, the campaign said.
Obama was in Pakistan for about three weeks, said the campaign, staying with his friend’s family in Karachi and also visiting Hyderabad in Southern India.
Pakistan in 1981 was under military rule. It was difficult for U.S. citizens to travel to the country without assistance. It would have been easier for someone to enter Pakistan on an Indonesian passport.
If Obama indeed possessed Indonesian citizenship as a child, it is unlikely he retains such citizenship. The country’s bylaws require any Indonesian citizen living abroad for more than five years to formally declare his intention to return, otherwise risk losing his citizenship status. The law does not necessarily mean Indonesian citizenship would be immediately lost. The law can be overruled by ministerial order.
Obama’s registration in Indonesia under the name “Barry Soetoro” also raises questions as to whether he adopted that name in the U.S. at any time. According to Illinois state filings, when Obama registered as an attorney in 1991, under the name Barack Obama, he stated he did not have any former names.
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