JAKARTA, Indonesia - A statue of President Obama as a boy erected in a Jakarta park has been targeted in a Facebook campaign by thousands who say it should be removed.
The Indonesian-language Facebook group named "Take Down the Barack Obama Statue in Taman Menteng Park" had attracted 15,000 members by yesterday. The 43-inch statue depicting a 10-year-old Obama dressed in shorts and a T-shirt was unveiled in the downtown park Thursday.
Heru Nugroho, the group's creator, said he would use the support on the popular social-networking Web site to demand that Jakarta Gov. Fauzi Bowo remove the statue.
"Everybody knows that Obama is a world leader," Nugroho said, "but he is not our national hero who deserves to be awarded a statue."
A separate, English-language Facebook site with the same name was created by a California man and has attracted about 100 members, mostly in the United States.
Many Indonesians are proud that Obama lived in Jakarta from 1967 to 1971 with his American mother, his Indonesian stepfather, and his half-sister.
He went by the name "Barry," had a pet monkey, and attended the elementary school near the site of his statue.
Ron Mullers, a Jakarta resident who came up with the idea of the statue and raised money for it, said it was supposed to inspire local children to follow their dreams.
"It's ridiculous. I'm shocked," said Mullers, chairman of the local nonpolitical Friends of Obama Foundation, calling the move against the statue political.
Mullers likened the backlash to the controversy over whether Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. Obama accepted that accolade in Oslo the same day as his statue was unveiled by Jakarta Mayor Sylviana Murni.
Murni ruled out moving the statue, saying that it had been erected with the correct approvals and without political motive.
"Everyone in this country can express their opinions freely and give awards like statues to anyone freely," Murni said. The governor was overseas and not available for comment.