G20: Foreign commentators face backlash over uncultured tweets mocking traditional Indonesian clothes 

Foreign commentators mocking politicians and the shirts they wore ahead of the G20 Summit in Bali. Photo: Twitter screengrab
Foreign commentators mocking politicians and the shirts they wore ahead of the G20 Summit in Bali. Photo: Twitter screengrab

As world leaders gather in Bali for the G20 Summit, taking place yesterday and today, public discourse criticizing and even mocking them is to be expected. But did that vitriol have to be extended to Indonesia’s traditional clothing?

Following yesterday’s welcome ceremony for the summit, a couple of commentators from abroad thought it would be funny to take a dig at not only the politicians but also the clothes they were wearing. One of those was Iran-born Mahyar Tousi, who brands himself a right-wing political YouTuber and wrote that he was “Canceled by Iran” in his Twitter bio.

Photo: Twitter screengrab

The people Tousi called “idiots” are, from left to right, FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Indonesia’s Minister of Trade Zulfikli Hasan, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, and founder of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Klaus Martin Schwab. 

While Tousi’s tweet may be construed more as a dig at the people in the picture than their fashion sense, the fact that he nonetheless spoke negatively about the shirts prompted severe backlash from Indonesians.

To answer Tousi’s question, some netizens pointed out that Trudeau, Sunak, and Schwab wore shirts made of endek fabric, which was traditionally exclusively worn by members of the nobility for ceremonial occasions. Infantino and Zulkifli were wearing batik shirts, which are also traditional to Indonesia.

At any rate, Indonesian netizens have been attacking Tousi’s social media feeds following his tweet, with his Instagram profile in particular being flooded by angry Indonesians. One commenter wrote, “You were canceled by Iran, now you will be canceled by Indonesia.”

Coconuts reached out to Tousi for comment, but our attempt was met with a block on Twitter.

Tousi was not the only one.

UK-based Sophie Corcoran, who selected “journalist” as her profession on her Twitter bio, posted the tweet below.

Photo: Twitter screengrab

One Twitter user immediately responded: “Would you say the same if they were all in suits?” 

https://twitter.com/rbotlw/status/1592671067428257792

Indonesians in general do not mind criticism towards politicians. Heck, we chuckled along when Zulkifli Hasan – who is in the photo – awkwardly tried to evade an angry Harrison Ford and his hard-hitting questions in a classic interview about deforestation.

But mocking endek and batik is just not as edgy as some people might want it to be. There are, after all, a plethora of faults you can point out about these politicians without having to insult the culture of an entire nation of 270 million people.

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