06/22/2010, 00.00
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Bekasi: Islamic extremists destroy an "immoral and blasphemous" sculpture

by Mathias Hariyadi
It was the "Three young women” sculpture, by a famous Bali artist to welcome those coming into the district. For the fundamentalists it was "immoral", referring to the "Christian Trinity " and aims to convert. Artist: act stupid and misleading".

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - Islamic fundamentalists in the district of Bekasi, 30 km east of Jakarta, have obtained the destruction of a statue of "Three young women," because it was deemed blasphemous. The bare chest and symbols related to the number "three" - the Trinity of Christian nature - make the work of art "obscene" and "desecrate" the religion of Mohammed. The sculptor has expressed disappointment and disbelief at the destruction, ordered last June 19 by the local authorities, describing the act "stupid and misleading." The Bekasi district thus registers as a new episode of religious extremism after attacks on churches and Christian buildings. Theatre of a rapid urbanization, the area not far from the Indonesian capital has not been able to harmonise economic development and peaceful coexistence, especially between Christians and Muslims.

Recently, the Islamic Defence Front (FPI) pointed the finger at the statue of the "Three young women" (Tiga Mojana in local language), a work by the sculptor Nyoman Nuart, a native of Bali who is famous worldwide. The extremists have branded the work as "obscene and blasphemous" and have had it destroyed. The artist notes that the sculpture has nothing offensive to the religion of Mohammed, adding that "while being topless," the 17 meters high work of art has no sexual significance and does not intend to offend Islamic morality, also because the young women wear clothes typical of the region of West Java.

An even more "ridiculous" accusation is that the image seeks to convert people to Christianity: the three women, according to the extremists, recall the "trinity", and therefore had to be demolished. In fact, there are three women because there are three directions leading to the roundabout where the statue was erected. And each woman, according to the intentions of the author, was to symbolise a “welcome” to those who entered the district.

Following the wave of protests, the district chief imposed the statute’s destruction. A decision, taken by the authorities, also opposed by the moderate fringe of Muslims, according to which "the work of one of the most respected artists in the area, has now gone with the wind." A local witness, under conditions of anonymity, told AsiaNews that every work of the art should be appreciated, as long as "there is nothing blasphemous or contrary to any religion."

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