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Baywatch Bikini Party Enrages Muslims in Indonesia

Jakarta, 12 April (AKI) - Muslim groups near Yogyakarta in Central Java are up in arms at a local night club which has organised a Baywatch Bikini Party, inspired by the American television serial based on Californian surf life savers featuring women in skimpy bathing costumes and bare-chested men. "Parties like this must be rejected because they do not help to build the national character, on the contrary they damage it," Warijan, president of the Islamic students association, ‘Himpunan Mahasiswa Islam’, told local daily Java Pos.

The party is scheduled for next Saturday at Caesar Café, in Sleman district, whose owner Ambarukmo Fajar, said the girls attending will be "dressed in a relatively conservative manner with red mini-skirts and white tops".

Warijan added that Yogyakarta was gradually losing its status as a cultural centre of Indonesia and becoming instead "a city of sin." "Parents will be afraid to send their children to study here," he said. Yogyakarta is known as a center of classical Javanese fine art and culture such as batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows. It is also famous as a center for Indonesian higher education.

Yogyakarta also mainly attracts tourists interested in art and culture, with key attractions nearby such as the Prambanan complex of Hindu temples and the world famous Borobudur Buddhist temple, both UNESCO World Heritage sites.

"It is not the Baywatch one sees on television.The name was chosen for marketing purposes," said Caesar Café's owner Ambarukmo Fajar.

"We will recreate only the atmosphere of Baywatch and nothing will happen that could damage the culture of the traditions of Yogyakarta," he explained. "What is more, to do something openly sinful here would amount to suicide," he added.

The Baywatch initiative has been criticised by various other Muslim groups who have called for a boycott of the Caesar Cafe.

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