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Jakarta Post

Istiqlal: The work of a Christian architect

  • Kornelius Purba

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, November 10 2010   /  10:27 am

Standing gracefully: This undated file photo shows an aerial view of Istiqlal Mosque, the largest mosque in Indonesia. Visiting US President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit the mosque on Wednesday morning. JP/P.J. Leo US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama are scheduled to visit Istiqlal Mosque on Wednesday.

Some Americans who believe that Obama might be a Muslim due to the four years he spent in Indonesia during his childhood will no doubt closely follow the president’s visit to the largest mosque in Southeast Asia.

Many Indonesians perhaps do not know that the architect of the mosque was a devout Christian.

Friedrich Silaban won a competition to design the mosque in 1955. The contest’s jury included then president Sukarno.

Its construction started in 1961. Sukarno’s successor, Soeharto, officiated the mosque on Feb. 22, 1978....