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Jakarta closes hotel targeted by Islamists for alleged vice

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Jakarta closes hotel targeted by Islamists for alleged vice

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JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s capital has shut a hotel and spa complex for alleged vice, city officials said on Monday, after Islamist groups in the Muslim-majority country had urged Jakarta’s governor to act on a campaign pledge to shut the premises. The Alexis Hotel, whose website describes it as a “dreamland for men”, became embroiled in the city’s recent election when the new governor, Anies Baswedan, promised in a televised debate to shut it and accused his predecessor of only acting against more downmarket venues offering vice and drugs.Edy Junaedi, head of the Jakarta Capital Investment and One-stop Integrated Services (PTSP) agency, confirmed by telephone on Monday that the hotel’s permit had not been renewed.  In a letter, the city government said it had decided not to extend the permit after “information circulating in media about forbidden activities”, adding that it was required to prevent any immoral and illegal activities. Islamist groups had previously sent a letter to authorities demanding the hotel be closed, but later called off a proposed protest rally outside the venue for security and technical reasons, state news agency Antara said. The hotel did not immediately respond to a request for comment and its owner could not be reached. Media quoted Baswedan as saying the city would take firm action against any businesses conducting “immoral practices”. The governor faced criticism after winning April’s Jakarta election with the support of Islamist groups who had agitated for months against his opponent and former governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama – an ethnic Chinese Christian – whom they accused of blasphemy against Islam. Purnama demolished Jakarta’s sprawling Kalijodo red-light district in 2006 as part of a nationwide crackdown on prostitution and also closed a number of notorious Jakarta nightclubs over drug use. Though illegal in Indonesia, prostitution is rampant in most cities, and the decision to close the Alexis comes as groups like the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), which has a history of raiding nightclubs and bars, want Baswedan to impose a more “Islamic lifestyle” on the city of more than 10 million. Novel Bamukmin, head of FPI’s Jakarta chapter, has said the group would “push” Baswedan’s administration to gradually close down bars and clubs in a city known for a freewheeling nightlife because “It’s immoral and…not Islamic culture”. Sandiaga Uno, Baswedan’s deputy, has said the administration would consider setting up “sharia-inspired” or sharia-compliant entertainment spots similar to those in Abu Dhabi or Dubai.

(Reporting by Augustinus Beo Da Costa; Additional reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)
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