Bandung - A controversial Nazi-themed cafe in Indonesia would be reopened
with a broader World War II theme – without the swastika symbols but retaining
images of Adolf Hitler, the owner's lawyer said Tuesday.
The SoldatenKaffee ("The Soldiers' Cafe") – ornamented with
Nazi-related memorabilia – was voluntarily shut down on Friday following death
threats to the owner Henry Mulyana, who is accused of inciting racial hatred.
The cafe, which has operated in the western Javanese city of Bandung since
2011, has prompted a groundswell of anger from foreigners as well as
Indonesians following recent exposure in the English-language media.
Mulyana has met city tourism officials, who said the 35-year-old had done
nothing unlawful, his lawyer Rohman Hidayat told AFP.
The cafe will retain its photographs of Adolf Hitler and other Nazi-era
memorabilia, Hidayat said, adding that Mulyana sought to relocate within
Bandung and start a broader World War II cafe. He did not say when the cafe
would be reopened.
"So there won't only be photos of Hitler, but Winston Churchill and
Indonesian heroes too. There will be Japanese soldiers, not only German
soldiers, and no swastikas," he said.
"The authorities said the swastika was striking, easily recognisable
and visible, so we've submitted a written statement to authorities agreeing to
take them down."
The cafe, which takes its name from a popular hangout in Germany and
occupied Paris during World War II, had operated for two years with little
opposition and attracted positive reviews in local media.
But once exposed in the English-language Jakarta Globe daily and international
media, a wider group of critics from various countries emerged.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Los Angeles-based Jewish organisation, said
it wished to express its "outrage and disgust" over the cafe and
described Mulyana as a "bigot".
Mulyana, who could not be contacted Tuesday, has maintained that he never
wanted to evoke memories of the Holocaust and that the images and paraphernalia
were just decorative.
"I've received countless calls and death threats from locals and
foreigners," he told AFP on Sunday.
"I feel traumatised and shocked."
Ninety percent of Indonesia's 240 million people identify themselves as
Muslim, making the country home to the world's biggest Islamic population.
The Jewish populaton is comparatively tiny but historians have blamed poor
schooling for the lack of awareness of the Holocaust in Indonesia.