Asia

Indonesia: Statue of Chinese deity covered in sheet after Muslims protest

Indonesia: Statue of Chinese deity covered in sheet after Muslims protest

“Actually we can allow them to build the statue, just not as high as it was and it should be in the temple, not outside. We are tolerant.”

This laughable protestation of “tolerance” is in accord with Islamic law, which stipulates that non-Muslim structures must not be higher than Muslim ones, and that non-Muslims must not make any public display of their religious observances.


HONG KONG — A 100-foot statue depicting a Chinese deity was covered with an enormous sheet this weekend in East Java Province, Indonesia, after Muslims threatened to tear the colossus down amid mounting ethnic and religious tensions across the country.

The Islamist campaign against the statue, a depiction of the third-century general Guan Yu, who is worshiped as a god in several Chinese religions, began online and soon spread to the gates of a Chinese Confucian temple in Tuban, near the Java Sea coast, where the figure was erected last month.

On social media, Muslims assailed the statue as an “uncivilized” affront to Islam and the island’s “home people,” and a mob gathered this week outside the East Java legislature in the city of Surabaya to demand its destruction.

Statues deemed un-Islamic have been destroyed or vandalized around the country in recent years, and several Chinese temples have been set on fire. Covering the statue with a large white tarp was a stopgap measure proposed by the temple’s officials after a governmental religious body pushed them to find a solution….

In recent years, Muslim extremists have pressed for the adoption of Islamic law, or Shariah, throughout Indonesia. A civil court found the Christian governor of the capital, Jakarta, guilty of blasphemy against Islam in May. Islamists falsely claimed that President Joko Widodo was a Chinese Christian during his 2014 campaign….

“It is growing religious intolerance, making their own interpretation of the Quran and using that hostile interpretation against the Chinese temple,” said Andreas Harsono, the Indonesia director for Human Rights Watch. “They say that it is showing that China is dominating Indonesia.”

Didik Muadi, a Muslim who organized the protests against the statue, said Muslims would destroy the figure themselves if the government did not intervene.

“Actually we can allow them to build the statue, just not as high as it was and it should be in the temple, not outside,” Mr. Didik told the news site Tempo. “We are tolerant.”

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