July 28, 2010

Hundreds Protest Buddha Bar

A protest in Jakarta, Indonesia, against a local branch of the French-owned chain restaurant Buddha Bar became chaotic today when protesters damaged the restaurant and nearby public facilities. Over 300 Indonesian Buddhists showed up for the protest, which was organized by the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum (FABB). The crowd gathered in white t-shirts to protest the name of the restaurant which they feel insults their religion. From an AFP report:

"We're worried the existence of Buddha Bar can damage relations between people from different religions, and can also threaten the nation's unity," rally spokesman Karya Elly said.

Elly said the group demanded that the government immediately close the bar---known for its trademark lounge music and Oriental design---because it had been mired in religious controversy since it opened in late 2008.

Elly said they had also protested outside the French embassy, urging the French government to pressure the chain, which is owned by the George V Eatertainment group, to revoke the licence of the Indonesian franchise holder.

"The bar has tarnished the good name of Buddha. There are prostitutes hanging out there, and that cannot be forgiven," university student Catur Setiawan said.

Setiawan, a 22-year-old Buddhist, said the presence of Buddhist statues in the bar insulted his religion. A [15-foot] statue of a golden sitting Buddha gazes over its main dining area.

"What's next? Christ Bar, Islam Bar, Hindu Bar?" Buddhist protester Yani, 70, said while holding a banner filled with supporting signatures.

Other Buddhist organizations in the area criticized FABB for allowing the demonstrating to become destructive. Lieus Sungkharisma, the Chairman of the Gemabuddhi Trustees Board (also known as the Indonesian Young Generation of Buddhists) spoke out against the protesters:

"The demonstration held by FABB was quite deplorable. I reiterate that I condemn the way they did the action which has damaged the image and characteristics of Buddhists," said Lieus.

Lieus assessed the action of carrying posters of certain people and accusing them corrupt was an act that can not be justified. Such an action was beyond the teachings values of Buddhism.

What do you think about the Buddha's name and figure being used in restaurants and bars? Share your thoughts with Tricycle readers.

Images: afp.com

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Tangram's picture

one important point here is that Buddha Bar might mislead many people (especially people from other religions) who don't know about Buddhism.

they might think that Buddhism is associated with alcoholic beverages, disco music, and sensual pleasure.

so far, the protests by Indonesian Buddhists were already the most peaceful and "non-violent" way.

If the name of the bar is "Islam Bar" or "Jesus Bar", no doubt the bar's existence has vanished long time ago..

D.Dissanayake's picture

Sure the Buddha would have been indifferent to his statue being used in a bar, but that does not mean his followers would condone it.

Any sane decent person should know that one should not name bars after religious leaders.

Tricycle » Debasing the Buddha: Indonesia Bans Offensive Clu's picture

[...] Bar. The Anti-Buddha Bar Forum (FABB) organized the protest. As blogged about previously here, those demonstrations turned ugly. Well, despite FABB criticism from other Buddhist organizations, FABB efforts paid off: this week a [...]

G man's picture

Unfortuantly these people have forgotten the true message of Buddhism. That one should be unmoved by all things, and that suffering comes from within.

Buddha would have been indifferent to such a trivial issue as his statue being used in a bar, he may not have agreed with it but in the end it matters not.

Pedro's picture

i think we should ask, would buddha care for is statue ( we don´t even know how was is figure) to be in a restaurant? i understand the point of the protesters, but i think they got caught in the trap of the real world. In my opinion although is difficult, its even better to be able to ignore, and understand that the bad Karma will be with the owners of this restaurant and prey for them.

in my modest opinion Buddha would be against idolatrie of is figure, so seeing Buddhist getting mad because off it, seems wrong.

nightclub city help « nightclub-city-facebook-songs's picture

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brain's picture

If we have morality and money, do we have a mind to open a Bar with others religious name ?

Davo's picture

This kerfluffle, with it's rampant emotions and righteous indignation, is an exquisite example of how even Buddhists can get caught up in the us-and-them. From the above article, I suspect the protesters aren't interested in reflecting internally on what they are *truly* scared of.

Tashi Tender's picture

Westerners produced even shoes with Buddha and other Dharma pictures, this is very disrespectful. Some people would do everything for the money.

Greetings from Switzerland

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[...] Tricycle » Hundreds Protest Buddha Bar tricycle.com/blog/?p=2113 – view page – cached A protest in Jakarta, Indonesia, against a local branch of the French-owned chain restaurant Buddha Bar became chaotic today when protesters damaged the restaurant and nearby public facilities. Over 300 Buddhist Indonesians showed up for the protest, which was organized by the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum (FABB). The crowd gathered in white t-shirts to protest the name of the restaurant which they feel... Read moreA protest in Jakarta, Indonesia, against a local branch of the French-owned chain restaurant Buddha Bar became chaotic today when protesters damaged the restaurant and nearby public facilities. Over 300 Buddhist Indonesians showed up for the protest, which was organized by the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum (FABB). The crowd gathered in white t-shirts to protest the name of the restaurant which they feel insults their religion. From an AFP report: View page Tweets about this link [...]