'Tempo' apologizes for controversial Da Vinci cover
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
Leading weekly magazine Tempo has apologized to the Catholic community for its cover depicting a satirical version of The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci.
Tempo chief editor Thoriq Hadad said the magazine would publish the apology in Wednesday's issue of Koran Tempo newspaper, online newsportal Tempointeraktif and the magazine's next issue.
"We also decided to change the cover of our magazine's English-language edition," he said.
The apology came after representatives of eight Catholic organizations went to the magazine's office Tuesday to protest over the cover, which they said had offended them.
The cover portrays the late former president Soeharto having dinner with his six children, following the same composition as Da Vinci's masterpiece.
"The painting has a deep meaning for Catholics as it's about the holy journey of Jesus and his disciples, but Tempo has disrespected it by replacing the holy persons with the corrupt Soeharto's family," Catholic Students Alumni Forum head Hermawi Taslim told The Jakarta Post.
He said the Da Vinci painting was considered a religious artifact rather than an artistic work.
"The painting was inspired by the Holy Bible, so degrading it means desecrating the Bible," Hermawi said.
Catholics are a minority in the predominantly Muslim Indonesia.
Thoriq said he was surprised by the harsh reaction to the cover. The magazine had received a flurry of complaints since Monday, the day the edition was published.
"We had no intention at all of hurting Catholics. What we did was adopt the painting's artistic composition, not the meaning of the event," he said, adding that the editors had different interpretations of the magazine's cover.
Accepting the apology, Hermawi said that representatives of Catholic organizations would fly to some predominantly Catholic regions, such as Kupang and Manado, on Wednesday to avoid mass protests.
He said around 300 people gathered at the Catholic Students Dormitory at Menteng, Central Jakarta, earlier Tuesday ready to rally against the magazine.
"But we calmed them down and asked them to wait until we talked to Tempo about the matter," he said. (dia)
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