Arientha Primanita & Dessy Sagita
Lady Gaga was never going to show up at Jakarta’s Gelora Bung Karno stadium on Sunday. But that didn’t stop dozens of fans from gathering outside the stadium for a rally against the increasing influence of Indonesia’s hard-line Islamist organizations.
Fans, known as “Little Monsters” placed flowers outside the stadium in a mock memorial service for “the death of freedom of expression in Indonesia.” Others staged a flash mob, dancing for seven minutes to a mix of the US pop star’s hits.
“We recorded [the rally] and uploaded it to the Internet so the world can see that not all Indonesians condone violence,” said Tria Meirina, one of the organizers of Sunday’s event.
Lady Gaga canceled her June 3 concert amid threats from the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), a hard-line Islamist organization. The National Police were cautious about issuing the concert a permit after the FPI threatened to storm the concert and “do what they must to stop the show.”
Ravi Agustiana came to Sunday’s demonstration after spending her entire savings on a ticket.
“I was so disappointed and sad when I heard that Gaga’s concert was canceled,” the 19 year-old said adding that she came on Sunday to ease the pain of not being able to see the singer live.
Fia Rahmatia, of Bandung, West Java, said she spread word of the rally through the Twitter account @IndoProGaga. Fia said that she was moved by Lady Gaga’s message of tolerance and equality.
“What we grasp from Gaga’s [message] is that we have to be courageous, have self respect, embrace diversity and Gaga also teaches about equality,” she said.
Others demonstrated outside the State Palace in Jakarta.
The gay and lesbian rights group OurVoice plans to file a complaint with the Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) over the Gaga debacle.
“This is not just about entertainment but something far more serious than that. This is an indication that we have lost our freedom,” OurVoice secretary general Hartoyo said.
Hartoyo said the government should not regulate art and entertainment.
“The music we hear, the books we read, the movies we watch, it is all regulated. What is this the stone age?” he asked.