Bali won't cover up statues for Saudi king

08.03.2017

Indonesia's Hindu resort island of Bali on Wednesday defended a decision not to cover up any of its ubiquitous statues of deities and semi-naked women during a visit by the Saudi king.

King Salman and a 1,000-strong entourage are enjoying a week-long holiday in Bali after a state visit to Jakarta, during the first trip by a Saudi monarch to Indonesia in nearly half a century.

When he met President Joko Widodo for talks at a palace in Bogor, near the capital, officials hid some naked statues in the grounds by covering them with cloth and putting plants around them as a sign of respect for the Muslim monarch

But officials on Bali – a pocket of Hinduism in the world's most populous Muslim-majority nation – said that they would not extend the same courtesy.

The island, which attracts millions of foreign visitors every year to its palm-fringed beaches, is home to many statues of Hindu gods and bare-chested women. In the past, Balinese women often wore only sarongs that did not cover their chests.

"We're just going to leave (the statues) as they are, we don't have to cover up anything because it is our culture," Bali local government spokesman Dewa Mahendra told journalists.

He said that they "are cultural creations, they are art".

Local authorities had not received a request from the Saudi king or his party to hide any of statues from view, Mahendra said, adding they were more focused on ensuring the monarch's safety.

Strict interpretations of Islam forbid the creation of images of living beings – such as statues of women – and worship of idols.

The king and his entourage are staying in five luxury hotels for the holiday, which ends on Sunday.

Other places have hidden naked statues for visiting Muslim leaders. Last year a Rome museum covered up classical nude sculptures in temporary wooden cartons during a visit by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Indonesia is one of the highlights on the king's three-week Asian tour. He started the visit in Malaysia and will also visit Japan, China and the Maldives.    (AFP)

Related articles on Qantara.de:

Interview with the Saudi filmmaker Ahd Kamel: ''We live in a modern world governed by ancient rules''

Iran and Saudi Arabia: A plea for Islamic tolerance

Interview with Asma Barlas: ''It is the right of every Muslim to interpret the Koran for themselves''

In submitting this comment, the reader accepts the following terms and conditions: Qantara.de reserves the right to edit or delete comments or not to publish them. This applies in particular to defamatory, racist, personal, or irrelevant comments or comments written in dialects or languages other than English. Comments submitted by readers using fantasy names or intentionally false names will not be published. Qantara.de will not provide information on the telephone. Readers' comments can be found by Google and other search engines.