Indonesia court orders Buddha Bar shut after complaint

People enjoy their dinner at Buddha Bar Restaurant in Jakarta December 4, 2008. REUTERS/Beawiharta

JAKARTA (Reuters Life!) - The Indonesian branch of the Buddha Bar, an international chain of upmarket bars, has been ordered to close because its name caused distress to Buddhists, local media reported on Wednesday.

English language newspaper Jakarta Globe reported that Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday ordered the owners of the bar, Nireta Vista Creative, to close down immediately.

The owners, Jakarta’s district governor, Fauzi Bowo, and the Jakarta Tourism Agency were fined a total of 1 billion rupiah ($110,700) for causing mental distress to the plaintiffs, a group called the Anti-Buddha Bar Forum.

The group had complained the bar’s name and use of Buddhist decorations and statues was a form of blasphemy.

Jakarta’s governor and the tourism agency were fined because, by allowing the bar’s development, they “failed to consider the religious and cultural development in the society and ended up offending them,” said Judge F.X. Jiwo Santoso.

A lawyer for the bar owners said they would appeal.

($1 = 9,030 rupiah)

Reporting by Sunanda Creagh; Editing by Sara Webb and Sugita Katyal