Anger has ensued following reports that the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia celebrated American Independence Day on June 4 rather than July 4 in an intentional effort not to offend Muslims in the region.
As it turns out, July 4 falls right in the middle of Ramadan, an Islamic holiday that involves fasting in remembrance of what Muslims believe was a divine revelation of the Koran to Muhammad.
Ramadan, which goes from June 17 through July 17 of this year, involves both fasting and prayer.
A transcript of a speech delivered on June 4 by U.S. ambassador to Indonesia Robert Blake that is published on the embassy's website reveals that the Muslim holiday was at the center of the decision to celebrate Independence Day one month early.
"We are celebrating a month early to respect the holy month of Ramadan, but today we remember the revolutionary Congress meeting on July 4, 1776 in Philadelphia that issued America’s 'Declaration of Independence' that changed the course of modern history," Blake said in the speech.
While the ambassador went on to tout freedom and democracy around the globe, proclaiming that "people, everywhere, are endowed by their creator with those same unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," he said that the theme of the Independence Day celebration was environmental in nature.
"The theme of tonight’s celebration is Go Green to highlight the importance of clean energy and sustainable development," he said. " I encourage you to hop on the electric motorcycle, look at the model of the new green embassy we are building, and see the other displays of our green cooperation here, including biodegradable balloons and local, low carbon, sustainable food."
After anger over the embassy's early celebrations raged on social media, Politifact decided to weigh in on Wednesday, calling the accusation that the decision was made in order to accommodate Muslims "mostly true."
Politifact explained that there is solid evidence that "the embassy moved the date of its celebration of July 4, and that it did it in order to accommodate Ramadan," though it added "some additional context" for readers to consider: mainly that the vast majority of Indonesia adheres to the Islamic faith.
With Ramadan, then, having such a major impact on some 88 percent of the county, the U.S. government reportedly wanted to hold the July 4 event at a time when local guests would be able to attend; attendance during Ramadan would have been more difficult for some locals, experts told Politifact.