Mrs. Obama Handshake a Muslim Faux Pas

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An Islamic Indonesian government minister has been criticized by his fellow Muslims for shaking hands with first lady Michelle Obama.

Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, who was part of a receiving line of dignitaries for President Obama and Mrs. Obama in Jarkarta on Tuesday, admitted he shook hands with Mrs. Obama - but said it wasn't his choice.

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

In the past, Sembiring has flaunted his scrupulous adherence to his conservatism Muslim faith, avoiding contact with women unrelated to him.

However, Tuesday's faux pas has many Indonesians questioning his long-standing claims that he is a strict Muslim.  In a Twitter post, one female journalist noted the minister had refused to shake her hand.  She added with some glee that he would no longer be able to wriggle out of it.

Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world.

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