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Jakarta Post

Belgium-Indonesia 70 years: From phallic symbols to niqab

Belgium-Indonesia 70 years: From phallic symbols to niqab Friendly welcome: President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (right) receives a letter of credence from Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Kingdom of Belgium Stephane de Loecker at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta. (Antara/Wahyu Putro A)
Julia Suryakusuma
Jakarta   ●   Wed, November 13, 2019

While a teenager living in Jakarta in the early 1970s, my parents had a statue of Manneken Pis they had bought on one of their visits to Brussels, perched on the wall over a pond inside our house. It was a replica of the famous statue of a cherubic naked boy peeing, the iconic symbol of the capital of Belgium.

Why Manneken Pis? Because of its water-spouting function of course, perfect as a fountain for their pond!

How on earth does a city adopt a peeing boy as its symbol? A number of legends explain this, but perhaps the most famous is that in the 14th century, a boy named Julianske peed on the blasting safety fuse of explosives belonging to enemy attackers intending to blow up the city walls, thus saving Brussels.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Belgium-Indonesia relations, two countries of outwardly great contrasts. By size, Indonesia is the wor...

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of The Jakarta Post.