Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Storm over statue

The just-dismantled Tiga Mojang (Three Girls) statue outside the Harapan Indah residential complex in Bekasi, West Java. The local administration tore it down following protests from hardline Islamic groups which said it symbolised the Christian Holy Trinity. -- PHOTO: THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

JAKARTA - THE authorities have torn down a statue after coming under pressure from hardline Muslim groups who slammed it as a sign of Christianity.

The copper-and-brass statue in front of a mainly Christian housing complex outside the Indonesian capital Jakarta featured three ladies wrapped in a sarong.

Sculpted by a Balinese, Tiga Mojang (Three Girls) was meant to welcome people coming from three main streets in front of the posh Harapan Indah residential complex in Bekasi, West Java.

But the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a radical Islamic group, and other extremist groups claimed that the sculpture symbolised the Holy Trinity, and said it was a sign that Christians wanted to convert more people. They also claimed the statue was obscene.�

The FPI is a hardline group. In 2008, it made the news after it attacked some 200 Christians, moderate Muslims and members of a minority sect rallying to promote religious tolerance.

Although Indonesia - home to the world's largest Muslim population - is officially a secular country with a history of religious tolerance, its government has been coming under increasing pressure from an extremist fringe in recent years.

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