Didn't want to touch Michelle: Muslim minister

Written by: Samyuktha
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Michelle Obama- Tifatul Sembiring handshake
Jakarta, Nov 10: Fresh off the successful India Visit, Michelle Obama landed in a handshake row as a conservative Indonesian minister charged the US First lady of forcing him to shake hands with her.

Indonesian Communication and Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring, a conservative Muslim, told thousands of followers on Twitter that he tried to avoid being touched by the Lady but he was forced to extend his hands as Michelle held her hands too far towards him.

"I tried to prevent (being touched) with my hands but Mrs Michelle held her hands too far toward me (so) we touched," he posted, after scores of Indonesians questioned him as to why he touched the US First Lady against his long-standing claims that, as a good Muslim, he restricts contact with women who are not related to him.

However, the YouTube video of the handshake tells a completely different tale.

In the footage, Sembiring, part of the reception line at Jakarta to welcome US president Barack Obama and his wife, is seen smiling broadly as he shook the American president's hand before reaching out to grasp Michelle's hands with both his hands.

Sembring is not new to controversies. In Oct 2010, the minister had tweeted that AIDS stood for 'Akibat Itunya Ditaruh Sembarangan' , which translates to 'Caused by recklessly putting one's penis' in English.

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