Buddhist anger over ‘blasphemous’ bar

Buddhist anger over ‘blasphemous’ bar

A GROUP of angry Indonesian Buddhists symbolically sealed the upmarket Buddha Bar in Jakarta yesterday, urging authorities to immediately close the Paris-based entertainment franchise for “blasphemy”.

About 150 mainly student protesters carrying joss sticks and flowers gathered outside the bar in a wealthy neighbourhood of the capital and denounced its decorative use of sacred symbols and statues.

They chanted Buddhist prayers and carried banners reading “Remove all Buddhist symbols from the bar” and “Change your name or close forever”.

A handful of police watched calmly as the protesters then sealed the main entrance with fake yellow crime scene tape. The bar was closed at the time.

Protest coordinator Eko Nugroho said:

For us, Buddha is our revered teacher. But for them, Buddha is a decoration and the worst thing is the statues are in such an indecent place.

The trendy bar opened its first Asian franchise in Jakarta late last year, renovating a historic former immigration building in the plush Menteng part of town and decorating it with large Buddha statues and images.

It is believed to be part-owned by Puan Maharani, the daughter of former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, and former Jakarta governor Sutiyoso’s daughter, Renny Sutiyoso.

Nugroho added:

This franchise could never open in Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand. Its opening in Jakarta is really an insensitive decision by the government.  Imagine if they did that with other religions. There would be very big protests.

One female protester said:

Buddhism is a religion, and I can’t accept that they treat our religion this way.

Anyone up for starting a chain of Mohammed bars? No, I thought not.

15 responses to “Buddhist anger over ‘blasphemous’ bar”

  1. And I who believed Buddhist to be always tolerant guys!

  2. nullifidian says:

    A Mo bar would be rubbish: no booze, no pork scratchings, no strippers, no talking/laughing/heavy petting. 😉

  3. Shargraves says:

    nullifidian: Self flagellators and masochists would enjoy it. By not enjoying themselves.

    PS – good program on BBC2 last night by Andrew Marr.

  4. Alan C. says:

    #About 150 mainly student protesters carrying joss sticks and flowers#

    Muslims take note.

  5. chrsbol says:

    I’ll second that re. Andrew Marr program.
    One of the best things I’ve seen for quite a while and it has 2 more parts to follow.

  6. Rozi says:

    Well, at least they are not fire bombing the place.
    Also, has anyone else seen the ad for Harvey’s furniture before Coronation Street? It has a Buddha statue sliding down curtains or something to sit in front of the telly…

  7. dead yeti says:

    As a small review – the baby buddha bar in Hong Kong is a damn fine night out.

  8. John Owen says:

    Buddha is smiling. I like the story about the former nun who put a picture of Jesus behind the toilet seat to remind her that god was always watching, watching. Don’t think you’ll see a bar in the west with a motiff based on Christianity.

  9. Barry Duke says:

    @ John Owen. Just after the death of Franco in Spain, I was privileged to be invited to the opening of a huge Catholic themed bar on the outskirts of Benidorm. The lengthy bar counter was made up of a series of mini-confessionals through which drinks were passed by men dressed in full nun drag. There was a genuine altar with tall candles which guests used to light their cigarettes, a font filled with sangria, an industrial sized bible which provided paper for spliff-rolling, and processions of “priests” and “nuns” who handed out glow-in-the-dark figurines of Jesus and Mary. I can’t remember when I last had so much fun. Much of my pleasure was derived from seeing young Spaniards delighting in cocking a snook at Holy Mother Church. The bar created a great deal of controversy at the time, but it closed when the novelty finally wore off.

  10. Shargraves says:

    @ John Owen

    The Liverpool bar alma de santiago has lots of pics of religious iconography mixed with lots pics of primates.

    There’s a huge chimp head dominating a whole wall surrounded with gold framed paintings of saints, kind of a combo of evolution vs religionists played out around you as you dine.

    The sister bar, alma de cuba is in a church – the interior is incredible.

  11. GBG says:

    Made me think twice about opening my “virgin Mary brothel and bondage shop” in Alabama.

    When are we going to sit these religious nuts down and explain that 1) their rules apply only to them, not us. and 2) being offended isn’t going to kill them. sit down, have a cup of tea and get over yourself.

    We have got to the stage where being “offended” is seen as the ultimate in human suffering and any reaction can be justified so long as it’s a result of being “offended”.

    As Stephen Fry once said in response to the mo-toons “you’re offended…. so fucking what?”

  12. Alun says:

    I thought buddhists were supposed to protest by sitting down quietly and setting themselves on fire.

    I blame the koranimals for this. Everything that’s not quite to their liking is an “outrage” that brings thousands of howling subhumans onto the streets like they’d all been hiding in the sewers waiting for the “Go!” signal. When these events get televised worldwide the ignorant cretins from other faiths see what they must do to bend a weak or pandering goverment to their will.

  13. Alun says:


    “Made me think twice about opening my “virgin Mary brothel and bondage shop” in Alabama.”

    Reminds me of a drive I took through one of our local towns a while back. I never knew the place had a sex shop and still wouldn’t have until I saw the old lady picketing outside. She had a big wool coat, carpet bag and fur hat, a proper old lady dressed for chapel. She was quietly holding a placquard saying “STOP THIS FILTH”. Upon my return home I phoned the shop and suggested they take her a cup of tea. Best and cheapest advert their business they could hope for.

    I thought your summing up of the phenomenon of “offence” was spot-on.

  14. theBone says:

    Limelight in NYC was in a church…

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