September 02, 2010
At the end of July, hundreds of Indonesian Buddhists protested against a local branch of the French-owned chain restaurant Buddha 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 district court ruled that Buddha Bar offends followers of the faith, and ordered it to close and pay $111,000 in fines.
Anthony Deutsch from London’s Financial Times beyondbrics blog writes:
Located in a beautifully renovated colonial building in the upscale Menteng neighborhood, Buddha-Bar draws affluent Jakartans to plush sofas and cocktails. However, its centrepiece, a giant Buddha statue, and the Buddha-Bar name itself have drawn protests from student groups in Indonesia who say such use of religious symbols is offensive.
Buddha-Bar has never been targeted elsewhere by international Buddhist groups and it’s curious that the suit has been lodged in the world’s largest Muslim-majority nation - where Buddhism is virtually non-existent. The lawyer for the bar said the suit should not even have been filed in a civil court, but rather in a trade court.
Read the rest here.
Despite the ruling, George V. Entertainment, the owner of Buddha Bar, is going to continue to operate the club. The court’s decision will not be enforced until all other legal options have been explored, which could very well take years in Indonesia’s corrupt court system.
A question: is it wrong that it seems generally more acceptable to debase images of the Buddha and Hindu gods and goddesses than deities of Western origin? Can you imagine coming across a Jesus Christ Bar?
Perhaps new owners at Manhattan’s Buddha Bar recognized this double standard and that’s why they changed its name to Ajna Bar Formerly Known as Buddha Bar?
Share your thoughts.
Image: Shanna Ravindra, from newyork.grubstreet.com