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Michelle Obama: Fancy feet in India, pushy hands in Indonesia?

By Melissa Bell
(AP Photo/APTN)

While Michelle Obama won over India with her fancy footwork, her hands have gotten her into a bit of a bind in Indonesia.

The information minister in Indoneisa implied the first lady forced him into touching her when the two met:

"I tried to prevent [being touched] with my hands but Mrs. Michelle held her hands too far toward me [so] we touched," Tifatul Sembiring told tens of thousands of followers on Twitter, the Associated Press reports.

The minister, as Robert Mackey reports in the New York Times' lede, is "has a local reputation of something of a moral scold and religious extremist." Sembiring has said he refrains from touching women who are not related to him because of his conservative Muslim beliefs.

Only YouTube seems to tell a different story. Sembiring appears to smile largely and grasp the first lady's hand after being introduced by President Obama.

The response on Twitter and on Facebook has been gleefully poking fun at the implied hypocrisy. Female reporters in Indonesia have tweeted that the minister will now have to shake their hands, too, and that, perhaps, the YouTube clip should be shown in slow-motion to catch Sembiring's reluctance to shake hands.

What could have been a national crisis of missed hand signals, may actually win Michelle Obama more female fans abroad.

By Melissa Bell  | November 9, 2010; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  The Daily Catch  
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Here's a thought. Don't stand in a receiving line where the First Lady is shaking hands if you have a problem shaking hands with women.

Posted by: TheHillman | November 9, 2010 6:27 PM | Report abuse

Look at the top picture and what stands out? You guessed it. Why not just paint an X on her butt and use it as a landing pad for Marine One.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | November 9, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

There is an easy way to settle these problems. Muslims should stay about 500 miles from the rest of humanity. Scumbag nut--no telling where your hand is going next. Watch out!

Posted by: rusty3 | November 9, 2010 6:56 PM | Report abuse

Desertdiva1: That's called shape you know about that don't you? or maybe you don't not all women are built like you(a #2 pencil!)First Lady Michelle Obama is one of the most attractive first lady's to ever grace the White House, only the late Jackie Kennedy-Onassis compare's to Mrs.Obama as far as beauty and grace are concerned.

Posted by: dargregmag | November 9, 2010 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Indonesian are usually friendly and tactful, this man is an exception. Please do not judge us only by looking at this footage. I'm a huge fan of your work, Madame First Lady!

-A concern Indonesian

Posted by: natashaardiani | November 9, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I am puzzled. Does the State Department not brief US representatives traveling abroad on local and religous customs? I seem to remember a minor flap when the First Lady placewd her hand on Queen Elizabeth's shoulder. There seems to be a lack of due diligence here. These minor faux pas could easily have been avoided.

Posted by: Frustratededucator | November 9, 2010 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Here's a thought. Maybe the fellow just didn't know how to Fist Bump!
We all watched her appearance on the "View" when she refused to shake hands, insisting instead on "Fist Bumping". Watch that video and check it out.
George will, master of the understatement, had this comment on Obama: "Uninhibited By Considerations Of Presidential Dignity"! Perhaps it is a family thing.

Posted by: PhillupSpace1 | November 10, 2010 2:54 AM | Report abuse

Re the fist-bumping first lady and the bowing obama: they do need a diplomacy czar. Someone needs to explain to obama that displays of subservience -- the prayerful-attitude bow especially -- are not "cool," as he probably thinks. Sadly, he represents the American people, and his bowing is symbolic of our subjugation. Same with MO and her "hands on" approach. Neither of these people has the gravitas or dignity that should be a hallmark of the presidency.

Posted by: wmpowellfan | November 10, 2010 3:53 AM | Report abuse

She is a joke , just like her hubby, just like she did to the queen, no one wants to touch you mo, learn the royal protacol.

Posted by: highwaybluesoccer | November 10, 2010 8:36 AM | Report abuse

I agree with TheHillman. If you see a woman you don't want to touch because you're a good Muslim, excuse yourself and get out of line. He dishonored himself with that tweet. It's completely undignified and disgraceful! No reflection on our First Lady.

Posted by: forgetthis | November 10, 2010 8:56 AM | Report abuse

Here's a word for you dargregmag "diet". Being at a normal weight improves health and has been shown to lengthen your life. The fasting and bingeing on fried foods that Moochie does is unhealthy as is her excessive weight. Blacks are predisposed to hypertension and maintaining a normal weight and a healthy diet will reduce that risk. The excuse of using your culture to excuse that gigantic booty does nothing to help others improve their health. She makes a poor role model.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | November 10, 2010 9:37 AM | Report abuse

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