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.
This franchise could never open in Malaysia, Singapore or Thailand. Its opening in Jakarta is really an insensitive decision by the government.Â 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.