An Indonesian court had on Wednesday ordered the local branch of Paris-based Buddha Bar to close after convicting the licence holder of blasphemy, the foreign media has reported.
The AFP has reported that the court had also ordered licensee PT Nireta Vista Creative, the official Jakarta tourism agency and Jakarta Governor Fauzi Bowo to pay damages of one billion rupiah (110,000 dollars) to the plaintiffs for distress.
The city authorities had failed to consider the religious sensitivities when they approved the licence, the judges have said.
“The judges passed a verdict today upholding the case we filed in May calling for the bar to be shut down,” The AFP has quoted a lawyer for the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum, which filed the complaint on behalf of local Buddhists, Sunardjo Sumargono as saying.
“The licence holder was found guilty of blasphemy and of using Buddhist symbols and ornaments at an inappropriate place.”
Central Jakarta district court spokesman Sugeng Riyono has confirmed that judges ordered the bar to close “as an unlawful act had been committed”.
The plush lounge bar and restaurant is the France-based chain’s first franchise in Asia, but it had sparked protests almost from the moment it opened in late 2008 in an up market area of central Jakarta.
Its trademark Oriental styling – including a large sitting Buddha figure which dominates the bar area – had infuriated mainly Muslim Indonesia’s Buddhist minority, who organised protests and a legal challenge.
The owners had reportedly changed the name to “Buddhabar” but that failed to satisfy the Buddhists.
“We’re very pleased with the court’s decision. It’s a blessing for Buddhists. Justice has been served,” Sumargono has said.
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