01 September 2010

More Blasphemy -- The Buddha Bar...

You have to give it to the Central Jakarta District Court, they certainly get some interesting cases. Perhaps not nearly as interesting as the celebrity cases that tend to go through the South Jakarta District Courts, but interesting all the same. Anyway, the Central Jakarta District Court had the opportunity to hear the recent case involving a petition to close down the Buddha Bar in the old Jakarta tourism building.

Now it seems that the Central Jakarta District Court has ruled in favour of the petitioners who were arguing that Nireta Vista Creative, the owners of the Buddha Bar franchise in Indonesia, violated state laws that protect religious plurality by mandating that people do not cause offense to state-sanctioned religions or blaspheme other religions. The Court held that the Buddha Bar offends and blasphemes. Therefore, the company who owns it must close it immediately. Furthermore, the Court handed out a fine of IDR 1 billion for mental distress to the petitioners, the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum.

The fine is to be paid by the owners of the Buddha Bar and by Fauzi Bowo (and the Jakarta Government). It would appear that the Court is punishing Bowo and the government for not being pro-active enough in shutting down the Buddha Bar when objections to it first arose.

I really do want to laugh at the decision to make the claim in the first place, but even more so at the idea that the Court not only entertained the case but found in favour of the petitioners. The cynic in me says that there must be bigger political and business interests at play here.

There is little doubt that there will be an appeal to the High Court.

However, perhaps now is a good a time as any to think about what the Buddha might have done had he been confronted with such a situation. My uneducated guess would be that he would have suggest his followers take a chill pill, find a big shady tree, and meditate for a while. The Buddha would undoubtedly have been philosophical about his approach. But, I am pretty sure that he would not have suffered IDR 1 billion worth of mental suffering and distress.

Perhaps those that have issues with the defenders of all things Islam, the FPI, might want to take them to caught and get a judgment for mental distress. It goes without saying that the FPI thugs are clearly violating the principles of showing respect and tolerance towards state-sanctioned religions. Now, if the courts will not take up the baton for all religions as it ha done for Buddhism in this instance, then the government needs to exhibit some testicular fortitude in ensuring that plurality is a reality and not just lip-service provided only when it suits.


H. Nizam said...

Hi Rob,
Very interesting post.
The court's verdict would inspire FPI and others to claim for similar fine.

Rob Baiton said...

@ Harry...

Feel free to share it round (if you so desire).

Yep, you would think so. Although, the FPI would hardly need very much inspiration on something like this.