Indonesia

Jakarta's Buddha Bar ordered to close

Activists crossed out the logo of Jakarta's Buddha Bar on their website, to protest its name.
Activists crossed out the logo of Jakarta's Buddha Bar on their website, to protest its name. Anti Buddha Bar Forum

An Indonesian court has ordered the closure of the local branch of a Paris-based restaurant the Buddha bar, in the wake of protests against the chain on religious grounds.

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Cheers rippled through the courtroom in Jakarta when the sentence was read out. On Wednesday, judges ordered the oriental-styled Buddha Bar to pick up its plush cushions and Buddha statues and head back to Paris.

The Central Jakarta District Court convicted the bar owners of blasphemy and said the city authorities had failed to consider religious sensitivities. Judges ordered the licencee PT Nireta Vista Creative, the Jakarta official tourism agency and Jakarta governor Fauzi Bowo to pay close to 8,000 euros in damages, to the plaintiffs, the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum.

"The judges passed a verdict today upholding the case we filed in May calling for the bar to be shut down," said Sunardjo Sumargono, a lawyer for the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum which filed the complaint on behalf of local Buddhists.

The Buddhist minority of Indonesia’s mainly Muslim population took offence at the bar’s name and use of religious symbols as decoration.

Since its opening in 2008, local Buddhists have organised protests in front of the bar and the French embassy calling on France to put pressure on the bar’s owners.

According to the Jakarta Globe, defense lawyer Kurnia Girsang from Juniver Girsang & Partners told reporters after the verdict that the licence holders would appeal.

“We disagree with the verdict, the issue here is about the brand name and should have been taken to the trade court not the civil court. However, the judges have their own consideration and we will respect that,” he said .

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