DENPASAR, BALI, August 14, 2012 (The Bali Times): A major Indonesian broadcaster has been forced to cancel one of its prime Ramadan TV shows after angry protests from Balinese Hindus. The Indosiar historical drama series Sembilan Wali was commissioned to run throughout the Muslim fasting month, and features fictionalised adventures of the so-called “Wali Songo,” the “Nine Saints” said to have brought Islam to Java. Indonesian broadcasters traditionally commission dramas and soap operas with an Islamic theme as part of their Ramadan programming schedules.
However, the serial earned the ire of many Balinese Hindus, who complained about its allegedly negative and historically inaccurate portrayal of the Hindu Majapahit Kingdom. Official protests were lodged with the Bali Legislative Council by various organisations, including the Indonesian Hindu Dharma Students Union, the Indonesian Institute of Hindu Dharma and the Parisadha Hindu Dharma Indonesia, as well as by individual religious leaders. Official complaints were also lodged by the Bali branch of the Indonesian Broadcasting Commission (KPI).
KPI head Komang Suarsana said that the series’ portrayal of the Hindu Majapahit forces as evil, and its scenes of violent clashes between Muslims and Hindus, were both historically inaccurate and had the potential to incite religious hatred. “The Bali branch of the KPI expressly requests that the series be halted because of its harassment and defamation of the Hindu religion and its symbols. This series is against the basic teachings of Hinduism,” Suarsana said. “In the story, Hindu leaders are always synonymous with wickedness, and Islam is synonymous with purity and so on.” The station made an official apology to all Hindus for any offence caused, and agreed to cease broadcasting the show as of Wednesday.