From Al-Jazeera, “US military aid role a first in Indonesia,” with thanks to Susan:
Reaction was generally positive to the news of an American presence.
“Praise God, they are coming to help us,” said Munajar, a Banda Aceh clerk who like many Indonesians uses only one name. “We have been waiting for the international community to assist us and now they have come.”
Twenty-one-year old student Marrisa, who registers newly displaced people arriving at a local mosque was hopeful the foreign assistance will stave off a humanitarian disaster.
“So far the Indonesian government has not been able to deliver the aid quickly,” she said. “Hopefully now we will receive the food and medicine we need to save these people.”
Not everyone was so enthusiastic.
“The Americans have to understand our culture here,” said Hilmy Bakar Almascaty, vice-chairman of the Jakarta-based Islamic Defenders Front, which is mobilising relief efforts of its own.
“If they are not sensitive to local issues then there will be problems. If American women come to Aceh, they must wear dilbab for example. There is Sharia law in Aceh and that is what is dictated.”
USAid’s Bok said it was unlikely US service personnel would adhere to a Muslim dresscode.
“I don’t think the practice of Islam in Aceh is such that it forces all people to wear dilbab,” said Weiss. “This is not Saudi Arabia.”