...In his sermons and television programs, Mr. Gymnastiar often uses the word adil, meaning fair. It is, he says, the essence of Islam.
''In Christianity the significant word is love,'' he said. ''But in Islam it is fair. Because if we are not fair, we hurt someone. If we make war, we have to be fair with our enemy.''Well, that's more than you can say for President Outreach these days.
He tried, he said, to get this concept across to Secretary Powell. Most important, he said in an interview afterward, he tried to explain why the United States is mistrusted in the Islamic world.
''I said: 'You don't look fair. I feel so sad that America looks too powerful,' '' Mr. Gymnastiar said he told the secretary. He then drove the point home, he said, with the Middle East: ''Why is it that Israel takes Palestinian land, and why is that the U.S. always helps this?''
At the same time, he said, he tried to reassure Secretary Powell: ''I said we don't hate America. I just said America is unjust, unfair. If Bush has a fair ideal, every country is going to love America. But as Muslims we feel we are treated unjustly, unequally.''
Mr. Gymnastiar's appeal among Indonesia's young and the middle class appears to lie in a combination of his modernity, his background as the son of a soldier and his interest in business. In the country's precarious economic environment, where an unruly democracy is unfolding after three decades of dictatorship, his homilies inspire hope and confidence...