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Outrage as cleric weds girl, 12

By Lucy Williamson
BBC News, Jakarta

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A Muslim cleric has caused public outrage in Indonesia after marrying a 12-year-old girl.

Pujianto Cahyo Widianto married the girl in the central Java city of Semarang, during an unofficial religious ceremony.

He reportedly chose her from a pool of 20 girls, before flying to Singapore with his new bride, as well as his first wife.

Police have launched an investigation into the incident.

Possible charges

Investigators from Indonesia's child protection agency said Mr Widianto had chosen the girl based on her intelligence, maturity and physical development.

They said Mr Widianto, who runs an Islamic boarding school, had planned to put the child in charge of his second business - a calligraphy workshop.

It is unclear if the marriage has been consummated. If it has, Mr Widianto could face charges under child protection, marriage and labour laws.

He is reported to have justified his actions by saying he was emulating Islam's Prophet Muhammad, and that he would wait until his wife reached puberty before having sex with her. But there has been fierce reaction to the marriage within Indonesia.

A senior member of the prominent Islamic party, PKS, said he thought Mr Widianto was wrong in what he was doing, and wrong in his thinking about Islam.

Police say they have not asked Singapore to extradite the cleric, but are continuing investigations.


SEE ALSO
Country profile: Indonesia
07 Aug 08 |  Country profiles


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