Central Java city renames Pork Festival after protests by Muslim groups

SEMARANG, INDONESIA (JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Organisers of a culinary event named the Pork Festival in the Central Java city of Semarang have been forced to rename it following protests from Islamic groups.

The event will now be known as Imlek Culinary Festival. Imlek is the local name for Chinese New Year, which falls on Jan 28 this year.

The Islamic groups met the festival's committee at the Semarang Police station to discuss the event, which will be held at the Sri Ratu Supermarket in Semarang on Jan 23 to 29.

"The Pork Festival bothers us Muslims in Semarang. That's why we want the committee to cancel the festival and focus on the Imlek celebration. The event will still have pork stalls but they have to be closed off from the public eye," Danang Ansoru, spokesman of the Semarang Islam Congregation Forum (FUIS), said Friday evening.

Danang said the groups had also asked the committee to stand guard at the stalls to prevent Muslims from entering, but the request was turned down.

A FUIS statement issued on Jan 20 on the event was signed by several organisations, including Hizbut Tahrir Indonesia, Muhammadiyah Youth, Indonesian Muslim Students Action (KAMMI), Indonesian Muslim Lecturers and Muhammadiyah.

FUIS demanded the police not issue permits for events that may spark public "concern".

The committee head of the festival, Firdaus Adinegoro, confirmed the name change.

"The event is still on, we just changed the name," he said.

Semarang Police chief Abiyoso Seno Aji said the pork festival was legal and did not violate the law. He said he would be firm against people who attempted to disrupt the event.

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