Muslims Protest in Bekasi Over Statue Of Women and Desecration of Koran
Zaky Pawas & Ulma Haryanto
Three statuesque women carved in steel and an incident involving the Koran have both caused an uproar amongst conservative and hardline Islamic communities in Bekasi, with nearly 1,000 members of Muslim communities staging a demonstration on Friday outside the city’s administration office.
“They want the statue of the three women, the Tiga Mojang Statue, to be demolished, and they want the case of Abraham Felix to be handled seriously,” Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Imam Sugianto told the Jakarta Globe on Friday. Imam was referring to two separate cases, one of which involves Patung Tiga Mojang, or the statue of three Sundanese women, which is located within the Harapan Indah housing complex in Bekasi.
The other case refers to Abraham Felix, a 16-year-old student of SMA 5 high school in Bekasi. Pictures of Abraham stomping on a Koran, the Islamic holy book, and one of him allegedly putting it in a toilet were posted on a blog, enraging the local Islamic community. Bogor Police arrested Abraham on Wednesday on suspicion of creating the blog. “Felix is being charged with Article 156 of the Criminal Code for religious defamation,” Imam said.
Last week a Catholic school in Bekasi, St. Bellarminus, was attacked by a group of people over Abraham’s suspected blog post, which displayed the school’s name and posted pictures and writings defaming Islam.
Police deployed 700 officers to secure Friday’s rally, including about 200 members of the National Police Mobile Brigade Unit. The rally grew to a fever pitch at about 4 p.m. before dying down.
Friday’s demonstrators were drawn from over 60 Muslim organizations, including the hardline Islamic Defenders Front, or FPI, the Bekasi Front Against Apostates, the Islamic Missionary Council (DDI) and the Islamic Ummah Forum.
“The demonstrators believed that the statue had now become a symbol of Bekasi. The statue does not contain nor reflect Islamic values and attitudes. The statue does not have the proper permit,” Imam said. The 17-meter-tall statue depicts three female figures wearing traditional West Javanese tops. All three women seem to be adjoined by their sarong.
“The masses marched from the Bekasi Islamic Center to the Bekasi administration office to give speeches. They were then accepted by the Bekasi regional secretary, Candra Utama,” Imam said. The crowd then marched to the Harapan Indah housing complex where they came upon the statue and covered it with white cloth, and raised a flag with the inscription “Laillaha Illallah” (“There is no God but Allah”).
The Bekasi administration secretary said he would follow up the requests and report them to Mayor Muhtar Muhammad on Monday.
The Bekasi administration said they will then invite representatives of the crowd and the Harapan Indah developer to discuss the matter.
Bekasi Police said that they already informed the developers about the construction of the controversial statue. “We received information that the people did not want the statue to be there,” Imam said.